When the ‘world changed,’ a daily student reporting project tackled ‘Pandemic Fall’ at a Colorado liberal arts college--with dedication and inspiration.

Students vs. the pandemic: How a journalism team is chronicling COVID

When the ‘world changed,’ a daily student reporting project tackled ‘Pandemic Fall’ at a Colorado liberal arts college

With her spring semester over, Colorado College senior Arielle Gordon was prepping for an internship reporting for the Collegiate Summer Baseball Network. Her friend and classmate Miriam Brown was readying for a summer doing digital content for a large Memphis hospital.

“Then COVID-19 hit and the world changed,” says Corey Hutchins, an instructor in the private liberal arts college’s newly-created Journalism Institute. “Everyone’s plans were scrapped, everything was cancelled. People were staying home. What now?”

An atmosphere of uncertainty led Journalism Institute Director and Associate Professor of English Steven Hayward to suggest to Hutchins that they apply for a last-minute Summer Faculty Student Collaborative Research grant to put together a robust collaborative reporting project focused on the pandemic’s impact on their college, higher education, and the broader community in Colorado Springs. The two mentioned it to their colleague, Najnin Islam, an assistant professor in the English department, and the ball was rolling.

Related content: 5 ways to get back to campus with safety in mind

“It was a triangle of issues,” Hayward says. “They suddenly were very important, and they were going to become even more urgent in the fall.”

Summer plans up in the air, Gordon and Brown, journalism minors who serve as co-presidents of the independent organization that oversees campus publications, were a natural fit and on board to do it. The CC COVID-19 Reporting Project, a daily inbox newsletter published on Substack, was born.

Since launching in June, the project has surveyed students and staff members, interviewed campus administrators and county health officials, explained the college’s new academic schedule, analyzed public reports, researched the ethics of re-opening, and contextualized how guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control could impact campus life in the fall.

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