Columns / COVID-19 / Discourse / May 21, 2020

Editor’s Notebook: Reflection on TKS in digital term

As the term comes to an end, I have started slowly passing over the reigns to Carlos and Sadie. I’ve run my last meetings, done my last interviews and have started to turn over the emails and dist lists to them.

I still have my ‘Aloha’ column to write, but I thought I would also self-indulge in a little reflection on the changes TKS has made this term. TKS has always been a very print-focused publication, which has worked alright until this term. Doing a weekly publication clearly has a very different rhythm than was needed for this term, or covering something that was changing as quickly as the pandemic was in mid-March.

The problem with that was very clear as we tried to figure out how to move online. We had a rough idea to cover the bare necessities until May but our plans, like everyone’s, changed when Knox announced we would not be coming back to campus this term. Looking back now, we should have been planning to do more while away from campus, because it’s not just breaking news that matters.

It took us time to start covering what we needed to be covering, though. And I sincerely appreciate the feedback readers gave us on what they thought we should be covering. I think now, though, we have been able to cover a lot more of the student experience this past month, and help create documentation of what Knox experienced (as is always part of our role).

I also wish we could have kept some sort of weekly format. We talked earlier on about some sort of newsletter but it never ended up happening.

At the same time, this term has given us an opportunity to make some needed changes. Samuel has started his TKS Off Campus podcast and I’m looking forward to what he does with multimedia and digital reporting next year.

Some of what and how we cover things has changed too. Without events, we have had to think more about what to cover and how, which has strengthened what we call ‘enterprise reporting.’ There has also been new types of breaking and other major news that none of us on staff have ever had to cover before, including the pandemic and President Amott’s retirement and the killing of two alumni.

Our staff structure has changed this year too, earlier in response to budget cuts and now in response to the pandemic. More people are doing editing (although without physical proofing, less editing happens overall), and there is more flexibility in how an article goes from a Google Doc to being published. When it works, it makes us better able to adapt and publish quickly.

As I’ll say again in my farewell column, the staff has also stepped up a lot. Working when we aren’t on campus is harder — stories take more time, meetings are harder to coordinate, photographs are almost impossible to get. They have managed not only the job getting harder but also all the changes we have had to make, and still been students during it all as well. Which gets my applause at least.

As Carlos and Sadie figure out what they want to do for next year, they’ll have more changes to make. I think having a more solid digital foundation will help them with that. Hearing their ideas over the past few weeks, I’m looking forward to seeing what they do, and where TKS goes during the rest of this coronavirus era and beyond.

Connor Wood, Editor-in-Chief
Connor Wood is a senior with a double major in English Literature and Environmental Studies. He started as a volunteer writer and then staff writer his freshman year and was a news editor his sophomore and junior years. He has also worked as a communications intern for the Aldo Leopold Nature Center and as an intern with Unified News Group, both in the Madison, WI, suburbs.

Tags:  digital term editor's notebook journalism pandemic reporting tks

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