You Can Still Print A Student Newspaper in a Pandemic

Corinne Stremmel – Editor-in-Chief

At my first layout night for The Gustavian Weekly four years ago, part of me wondered if I’d ever get to be Editor-in-Chief. Now, a senior, here I am as Editor-in-Chief, working alongside my editorial staff who are placing and designing the layout for this story on my last layout night. I most definitely didn’t expect that I’d be Editor-in-Chief during a pandemic. Well, maybe a small part of me did expect that because I am a known hypochondriac (my kind friends say I’m “germ conscious”), so this was bound to happen from my illness-centric perspective.
Oddly enough, The Gustavian Weekly first began in a pandemic. Coming off from the flu pandemic, The Gustavian Weekly emerged in 1920. The student paper was originally known as College Breezes, but the name Gustavian Weekly started the 1920-1921 school year. That’s right, The Weekly is one hundred years old this school year and thanks to the minds of college students, it doesn’t look a day over 18-22 years old—not even a wrinkle, except maybe a typo on page 11.
There are many challenges of putting together a paper during a pandemic. Most of my staff I’ve never met in person. I only recently met our web editor, despite our many email exchanges over the semester. Everyone is much taller than I imagined them.
Additionally, campus events were scarce at the beginning of the year, and sports were almost non-existent in early fall. There was this limbo of having quite a bit to report on regarding COVID-19 while also a lack of new angles for stories. It’s also hard because everyone has a little media fatigue, so no one really wants to read another story about COVID-19 or look at another picture of an empty football field.
But, despite having laggy InDesign for our remote editors and having to learn what a CS4 file is, our staff managed to produce twenty-five issues this year. I’m so proud of the work the staff has put in this year, showing up every issue and working together to produce that final product for our fellow students.
Side note: but, um, did you know that they used to have to literally cut and paste the newspaper to put it together on layout night? I’ll take InDesign crashing any day over glueing articles about how nice the Arb is until 3 a.m.
For those of you who have worked for a publication, you know that 90 percent of the job is designing a layout while asking yourself, “how do we make it look like we didn’t mess up?” For example, having the Editor-in-Chief write two different articles in news and opinion in one week.
The answer to that is a big picture, in a literal sense, but metaphorically it’s the “big picture” because the whole premise of a publication is the big picture. We produce a product that, in this industry, needs to be perfect. It’s the “editorial” staff for a reason. The Weekly is far from perfect, of course, but it is still about that big picture of filling space and getting our paper into the hands (and inboxes) of students.
There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes, and as Editor-in-Chief, I am so thankful for being part of the behind the scenes production. There’s something about having an idea and getting to see it come to fruition that is so satisfying for me, especially when it’s against the odds, say, a global pandemic, for example.
There’s so much I’ll miss about The Weekly when I graduate, mostly having Liam ask me every week if he can put a four letter word that isn’t duck in the word search (it’s not in there, so stop looking). I’ll continue my tenure as a journalist after I graduate, but I won’t have the same kind of staff that we have at The Weekly with it’s unique mix of collegiate stress and silliness.
For many other members of our staff, this is their last issue as well, and I want to wish them the best as they join the list of former Gustavian Weekly staff members. Collectively speaking, if you consider everyone who has ever worked for The Weekly, we have quite a mighty staff, all working together to report on the challenges and triumphs of our day.
For our 2020-2021 staff, we were dealt a pandemic and so was the staff in 1920-1921, and now they have a 100-year legacy. So yes, you can absolutely still print a student newspaper in a pandemic.

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