EAST LANSING, Mich. — They published through World War II and the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and The State News at Michigan State University is sitting out the COVID-19 pandemic either.
While campus shut down, as did just about every college campus in the U.S. in recent weeks, State News kept on publishing albeit with a few adjustments.
“It was never really a question – sort of from the get go – of whether or not we were going to continue to provide news,” said editor-in-chief Madison O’Connor, a senior journalism major at MSU. “Our role has always been to chronicle life on and off campus and this was no different. So everybody sort of jumped into action.”
Just as they’re doing for their classes, the staff of roughly 50 at State News - all of them students - are publishing from home. With no one on campus to distribute a paper to anyways, State News has gone virtual.
“The hard part came when we sort of realized that we needed to change how we did things a little bit,” said O’Connor. “We’ve always been online. At least for the past 5 years we’ve been online and in print. So we sort of had to reevaluate how we were going to do things with tons and tons of kids leaving campus. Does it make sense to continue producing a physical print product?”
While most student-run newspapers shutter up for the hiatus in traditional schooling, staff at State News are using their time at home to bring the perspective of a group whose lifestyle has been widely affected by the pandemic to light.
“That’s sort of one of the unique advantages we have The State News is, we are all students,” said O’Connor. “We can provide that student voice that maybe other outlets may not have the same access to.”
“In our coverage so far, it has been a lot of the breaking news or the features or whatever,” she added, “But there’s also been a lot of opinion articles from us about our students who are in the newsroom who have lost their jobs on campus or are struggling to find their way, or to figure out how to work from home and things like that. So that is one of the things we’re trying to bring to our coverage is that student perspective.”
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