Letter from the editor: Editor-in-chief addresses Collegian’s plans regarding coronavirus

Collegian file photo.

JESSICA LEE | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF | jelee2@butler.edu 

Dear Butler Collegian readers,

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, I’ve been following different headlines. At first, it was just in the mornings: a summary on the Daily Skimm, a daily newsletter, and a couple of minutes in NPR’s Up First news podcast. Then, it started to affect the Butler community and the headlines became our own. In the past six days, though, this virus has impacted our community on an unprecedented level.

During those six days, two priorities have become very clear to me: 

As editor-in-chief of The Butler Collegian, it is my job to keep a staff of almost 100 reporters, photographers, designers and editors safe and healthy. I hired them, and I see them as my responsibility.

The second priority is both mine and the entire paper’s: our responsibility to you, our readers. As always, but especially in a time of change and inevitable uncertainty, it is our job to maintain our diligence as journalists.

As conversations about the virus went from headlines to personal life, I found myself having dinner at my senior house with my brother. We were talking about what probably every household in America was talking about: the coronavirus. More specifically, how it felt that there was a lot of misinformation regarding the virus.

Speaking from experience, I told him the best way to fight misinformation is with more correct information.

Which is why The Butler Collegian will continue to serve our readers the best way we know how: getting and sharing the information you need, accurately and quickly and transparently.

My top priority throughout this pandemic is to keep my staff safe and healthy — and by extension, the Butler community. All reporting by the Collegian will happen over phone or email instead of in-person interviews. Reporters will first ask for availability over the phone. If an interview is conducted over email, it will be noted in the article as usual. 

The Center for Disease Control recommends minimal social interaction. That includes us, especially on a college campus where we have the opportunity to interact with a lot of people. In accordance, the Collegian staff have moved our weekly meetings virtually. 

Our next two issues, which were slated to print March 25 and April 1, will be online only. It takes a lot of people physically in one office to coordinate a print issue: six page designers and 15 editors at minimum fill the office on Tuesdays. That alone would be in clear violation of CDC’s advice. While we are proud of our print issue and we work to distribute 1,000 copies across campus every Wednesday, we will not be doing so on March 25 and April 1.

Our stories, though, will still be online on Wednesday morning, and urgent, pressing news will continue to be published online throughout the week.

We will continue to monitor the situation and make decisions regarding future print issues based on our priorities.

We are not here to cause a panic. We are not here to belittle administrators’ efforts. We are not here to simply relay messages from the university. We are also not here to give you news exclusively about the coronavirus.

In the upcoming weeks, whether we are online only or also in print, we are here to investigate why and how the university makes the decisions it does. We are here to give you multiple perspectives and angles from a diverse array of sources: students from all majors and years, faculty, administration, staff, those outside of the so-called Butler Bubble. While the coronavirus has disrupted many parts of our lives, there are other unrelated uncertainties for us to explore as journalists — uncertainties that are entirely related to your life.

Throughout this time of fluidity and ever-changing updates, rely on us to give you the news quickly, to ask the hard questions, to be transparent. We will deliver.

Sincerely,

 

Jessica Lee

Editor-in-Chief

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