Despite Ohio’s stay at home order amid the current pandemic, the Spark staff has still worked to produce this final issue for the 2019-2020 school year.
Journalism is the crux of our society, and in a time like now, when the dissemination of information is at its most critical point, we as a news organization wanted to continue to contribute. At this point in time, the coronavirus pandemic is the biggest news story of the generation. It has disrupted the lives of everyone around the globe. It has taken jobs from employees, graduation from seniors, and most tragically, family members, friends, teachers, and colleagues. Now, more than ever, it is crucial not only to report the facts as they present themselves, but also to ensure the accuracy, reliability, and relevancy of these facts.
Despite our drive to cover and to deliver stories, we also wanted to maintain our safety and the safety of those around us by following guidelines set out by the Ohio Department of Health. Thus, our story formats have changed this issue from our typical sections to topical articles. Also, we were forced to limit our content in order to properly cover the issues at hand. All of our writers compiled information and sources from the safety of their homes. All interviews were conducted via phone calls, video chats, and email. All of our editors and writers coached and edited their stories through video chat and excessive use of online communication forums, including Zoom, Google Docs, Googles Drive.
Much to the chagrin of our photographers, designers, and artists, they were also under restrictions. To maintain social distancing protocol, our photographers have refrained from trekking into dangerous territory and we instead implored our sources to share with us photos they wished us to publish. All designs and art in this issue were also created by separate people in separate places, and then brought together on a single computer. To deliver the paper and stay safe, the papers were placed in plastic pouches and left for three days, in order to ensure no virus microbes were transferred. We then sent out our staffers to deliver them to them to the homes of subscribers, using separate cars. The papers were left on each doorstep. The entire process intentionally created as little interaction between strangers as possible.
The process has not been easy, and every single day we miss the freedom of going out and finding the stories that need covering. We have missed being able to see our sources face to face, and being able to edit with pen and paper instead of a mouse and keyboard. Despite all this, we have managed to stay true to our journalistic roots even in this trying time. The saying goes that the paper can’t be made in the newsroom, but this time we did something even more challenging because everyone in the newsroom was a phone call away.
We as a staff hope you, the reader, and everyone in the community and beyond will stay safe and. Thank you for a wonderful year of Spark.