Journalism in the time of coronavirus

news on a tabletIt’s tough for me to say this. We don’t have the news at this present time, we just have coronavirus and that has been hard to take for a lot of journalists. Just this morning I opened up one of the news apps on my phone and of the 14 ‘breaking news’ stories, only one of them was irrelevant to coronavirus. It’s incomprehensible to think that nothing else is going on in the world right now, we are literally at a stand-still in time.

I read an article in the back end of March from The Guardian and it was titled, ‘The biggest story ever: How journalists are coping with Covid-19’ and it really got me thinking, is this the biggest story ever? This planet has faced other global pandemics, horrible tragedies and two world wars, but why is it the biggest to report on? It’s simple to say the technology wasn’t around to spread the stories like it has of coronavirus and that most people today have never and will never experience anything like this again. Imagine 12 months ago being told that a virus is coming that will halt your life, you’d say, “no chance”, right?

This unprecedented period is all we have at the minute and it is amazing to see how people have coped, whether that is making someone laugh on TikTok, or telling  a story of one of the extremely hard working NHS nurses, everyone has a part to play in making sure we come out of this stronger. With every problem, there is a solution and if anything, I see journalism benefitting from this.

You don’t even have to look further than Marjon, what students have been doing to keep themselves occupied and continue to apply their skills during this period has been brilliant. It makes you appreciate what you have right in front of you. I have had the opportunity to tell the stories of Marjon’s very own over the last few weeks and I doff my cap to all of you. This university has welcomed and sent off into the world some very special people and that in itself is the news we all want to see.

Remember that saying, ‘fake news’? I have seen this less and less across the last two months, every story you see published has meaning and news outlets are furthering themselves to ensure the correct information is broadcast to their audience. In the past I would see a news update on social media, read the caption and instantly be turned off from the inevitable, but now, I have the urge to read anything. Every single story has become personal, because everyone is in the same the situation.

I think an element of trust has heightened between the public and journalists. Editors and writers are working harder than ever to ensure real-life stories are being reported on and for many alike, we crave normal life. When the restrictions are lifted and we can see the light of day without standing two metres apart, it’s obvious to me that every moment will be cherished, and this is where great stories will come from.

There will again be a day when those 14 breaking stories will only contain one that is about coronavirus. We will have to wait for that moment, but it will be worth it. For a trainee journalist, I think news reporting has been appreciated more than ever during this time and it might sound cliché, but things can only get better.

Thank you to Jack Horswell, BA (Hons) Journalism student, for writing this.

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