Student-Run Newspapers Scoop Other Media, Report COVID-19

By Raven Harper

(JAC 310 Assignment for Prof. Waltz)

Leaving coverage of campus life, football games, and town-halls behind, student-run newspapers at colleges and universities around the country have been scooping professional news organizations when it comes to covering COVID-19 on campus.

"We have a group of writers and editors specifically tasked with covering breaking news updates related to COVID-19," said Stuart Carson, a senior editor for the University of Southern California student paper, The Daily Trojan.

Carson, the Deputy Director of Diversity and Inclusion of The Daily Trojan, said the paper has had to adjust since the start of COVID-19.

"Quite a lot has changed," Carson said. "The challenges of the pandemic, more specifically, the challenges of having to work together across varying time zones, cities, and continents, has presented its slew of obstacles."

USC transitioned to remote learning in April, sending students packing and leaving on-site reporters with little to cover.

A remaining big story was the status of USC football.

" For many Americans, especially college students, sports are central to daily, monthly, and yearly rituals. We mark our calendars for football, basketball, and baseball games and make days out of the events. A lot of Americans derive a sense of identity and pride in their college or hometown teams," Carson said.

In August, Carson wrote a story entitled Game Days like no other, quoting the USC Athletic Director, season-ticket holders, and student football fanatics about the status of college football before the postponement of the PAC-12 sports that fall.

The Trojans recently got back on the field after sitting out the off-season last semester due to COVID-19 leaving PAC-12 sports uncleared to play.

In addition to sports, USC's student paper also usually covers city news, campus life, arts and entertainment, and op-eds.

The Daily Trojan established in 1912, is the only student-run paper at USC - widely known and recognized for continuously "providing a forum of free and responsible discussion and intellectual exploration of USC," according to HuffPost.

With football off the table, reporters turned their attention to COVID-related stories like mandated flu shots for the spring semester, an employee testing positive, hybrid instruction plans, and COVID-19 financial assistance.

Marlize Duncan, a sophomore columnist for the arts and entertainment section, said the paper has a high following across social media platforms with over 41.3k followers.

"USC students, staff, and people of the surrounding community in Los Angeles look to us for news updates," Duncan said. "Our paper holds itself accountable for covering COVID-19 related updates, specifically when it pertains to USC students and the surrounding LA area."

Since USC started reporting COVID-related news, they have become well- recognized nationwide being featured in major news publications like Poynter, The Washington Post, HuffPost, and more.

The Washington Post referred to The Daily Trojan writers as 'the journalism heroes for the current pandemic,' for "publishing scathing editorials about controversial reopening plans and breaking news of campus outbreaks."

Recently, The Daily Trojan published a story on how COVID-19 cases are expected to spiral on campus after Halloween, including news that five USC students tested positive for COVID this past weekend.

COVID is also a popular topic at other student-run newspapers around the country.

At George Washington University in Washington D.C, Zach Schonfeld, a staff writer for The GW Hatchet, did a story in May about how GW coordinated its pandemic response, reporting from inside the decision room at a faculty senate meeting earlier that month.

At the University of Pennsylvania, Julie Coleman, staff writer for The Daily Pennsylvanian, covered a story on how campus housing rejections left UPenn students with nowhere to go after Penn announced a mandatory move-out date for students in response to COVID-19.

According to The New York Times, there have been more than 214,000 cases, and at least 75 deaths across American colleges and universities since the pandemic began. Many institutions have continued with remote instruction for the current fall semester, while some universities remain open with strict COVID-19 guidelines and adjustments.

The status of the spring semester remains in the air around college campuses, but there remains little doubt that college journalists writing for their campus papers will have it covered.

Richmond’s black community divided on defaced Robert E. Lee statue

By Jamaija Rhoades (JAC 310 assignment for Prof. Waltz)

For nearly 130 years, Robert E. Lee sat upon his granite horse undefiled, gazing down Monument Avenue in Richmond from a height of 60 feet, holding the reins in his left hand, his sword behind his left leg, angering African Americans, a symbol of hatred and the long bitter failed fight to keep them enslaved.

Today, years of protests and graffiti that reach almost to the top of the pedestal just may have satisfied that anger, African American residents say.

"I prefer to see the statue up with the art because we took what was theirs and made it our own," said Evan Luck, a resident of Richmond for 21 years. "Many people congregate there to remember the innocent lives that were taken from us. It is sort of a sanctuary for us now, and I love how it has brought us together."

An iconic haven for Richmond's black residents, the graffiti and messaging reflected in hues of orange, yellow, black, and blue serve as a reminder to future generations that the current generation stood up and fought for justice, they say.

"I don't think the statue should be removed. All of the art represents our generation standing up, and it gives people after us a chance to see that we tried to fight for justice and just maybe it will be in history books one day," said Angela Beverly, a resident of Richmond for 21 years.

Still, others believe justice will not be truly served until the statue comes down.

"Robert E. Lee was a slave owner and a Confederate leader. This is not anything that we should be proud of or something that our city should praise," said Taya Robinson, a resident of Richmond for 21 years.

This summer was the first time Richmond has removed several Confederate monuments, but it is not the first time Richmond's black residents have protested the existence of Confederate symbolism in the capital.

After the 2015 killing of nine African Americans by a white supremacist in a church in South Carolina, black residents of Richmond protested that both the Confederate flag and monuments were representations of hatred and needed to be removed. Former governor, Terry McAulliffe, ordered the removal of the flag from the license plates of the Sons of Confederate Veterans but argued that the statues could remain because they were symbols of heritage, according to The Richmond Times Dispatch.

The protests against Confederate monuments have spread around the U.S. and globally, where black citizens have protested and defaced more than 20 statues, bringing about the removal of 38 monuments in the three months after the killing of George Floyd, according to USA Today.

There are approximately 700 Confederate statues across the United States, most built during the Jim Crow Era. Early memorial statues were built to remember deceased soldiers, but later were erected to glorify leaders of the Confederacy and commemorate the cause of the Civil War, according to

Interestingly, some African American residents say their parents and grandparents either never pointed out the statues, or steered clear, so they never paid much attention to them until the protests started.

"Growing up in Richmond, the Confederate statues never bothered me because I just got used to seeing them on my way to school. After a while, I kind of just stopped paying attention to who they were and what they represented," said Alana Towns, a resident of Richmond for 21 years.

Still, Towns said she was glad to see them being removed.

"I was ecstatic. It gave me a huge sense of pride for Richmond," said Nakhi Finch, who has lived in Richmond for 11 years .

Statues of Jefferson Davis, Christopher Columbus, William Carter Wickham, Stonewall Jackson, Matthew Fontaine Maury, and J.E.B. Stuart have all been removed or vandalized, according to The New York Times.

Some residents say that simply removing these statues will not get rid of underlying-racism and race-related hatred and that real progress will not come until people learn to get along.

"I do not believe taking down Robert E. Lee's statue will ever change what's already in people's hearts," said Rachel Rhoades, a resident of Richmond for over 40 years. "Until people decide not to hate one another, decide to love each other and get along, just talk, and listen to one another, nothing is ever going to change."

A Direct Look Into How The West Chester Blood Donation Center is Struggling During The Pandemic

By Lauren Turman (JAC 310 assignment for Prof. Waltz)

The COVID-19 pandemic has decreased donations and widened blood shortages at the American Red Cross West Chester Blood Donation Center. These dwindling numbers have caused the Center to take new measures to attract more donors.

Nationally, the American Red Cross needs a donation two times per second, according to its website. Now, it's only receiving one donation every one 1.5 seconds, which is only a third of what it needs.

"In this crucial time, people are not showing up the way they used to," said Marsha, a medical assistant who asked that her last name not be published.

The WCBDC is the third highest recipient of blood donations in Chester County but has received 64 percent fewer donations in the eight months between March and October than it received in two months during January and February.

"We've given Red Cross socks, music gift cards, and are currently giving away Amazon gift cards because we really would like to see these numbers going back up," Marsha said. "It's funny because we never thought that we would have to try this hard."

Marsha is not alone in trying to increase donations, even nationwide. Only 6.8 million people in the United States donate blood, even though 38 percent of the population is eligible. In the Greater Pennsylvania region, 443,000 people across the state donate: this year, that number reflects 270,000 so far. Nationally, 80 percent of donors donate again after the first time.

Even in years past, blood shortages have been problematic in Pennsylvania. All of the centers came up short in 2018, reaching about three-quarters of its estimated goal with 331,000 donors. The pandemic has caused shortages to be much greater, which affects the amount of help that each region can provide to people in need.

The scarcity of donors has also caused rates at the WCBDC to drop by almost 65 percent. National and local representatives have issued at least three daily calls to prior donors from all Pennsylvania blood donation centers to encourage them to give and help close the blood shortage.

A recent visit by a four-time donor to the WCBDC – prompted by dozens of calls – revealed that things have changed since COVID-19 hit.

As usual, donor's temperatures, heart rate, iron count, and antibodies were checked.

Three other donors were there, separated by Plexiglas, versus the usual seven to 10. All nurses wore masks and face shields and changed their gloves after using disinfectant wipes on the equipment after each donation. The tables were wiped down at least twice.

"This is now a mandate for us. We could be responsible for getting someone sick if we do not wipe at least twice," said Nurse Amy, who asked that her last name not be published

One new instruction for donors was if they felt sick at any time, they should let nurses know so the donation could immediately be stopped, something I had never heard before.

"We don't know how all parts of the virus works, so if you feel any symptoms that align, we need to have you stop and exit immediately," medical assistant Marsha said.

Usually, after a donation donors are offered juice, a seat, and maybe cookies. Now, donors are presented with an Amazon gift card and promptly escorted out. The usually hearty "thank yous" were the same.

With annual donations reduced from almost 10,000 to 3,600 in West Chester and an increased demand for blood, both the Center and the entire American Red Cross wonder how they can fulfill their mission.

"The only way we know how to move forward is through initiative and just hope that we can overcome the virus and get some donors back," said Amy. "This isn't like food or something manufactured. All of the blood has to come from willing donors."

The day of a West Coast student attending Hampton virtually

By: Joann Njeri

(JAC 210 assignment for Prof. Waltz)

Ross Watkins frantically jumped out of bed scared that he had overslept for his first class. It was 5:30 a.m., which meant he had less than 30 minutes to get ready.

Watkins' computer science class began at 9 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, when he would normally physically attend classes at Hampton University on the East Coast.

But in California, where he is currently residing, Watkins was three hours behind, blurry eyed and fuzzy brained after just three hours of sleep.

With no time to shower, Watkins threw on a button-up polo shirt to be 'presentable' for class, then opened his laptop, logged onto Zoom, and gave a big smile as his name was called for attendance.

Welcome to a day in the life of a typical West Coast Hampton University student in Fall 2020. In response to COVID-19, Hampton University began its Fall 2020 semester online and early on August 10, and plans to close for winter break on November 20th.

According to the Hampton University Registrar office, about 40% of the student body is from the West Coast, and the majority of these students are enrolled in the School of Business.

Watkins, a strategic communication major from Los Angeles, struggles with virtual classes in a different time zone and is constantly exhausted.

When he talked to other West Coast students and found they were having similar experiences, he started a petition, asking the university to make allowances for the time differences.

Now, Watkins has over 900 signatures and hopes to have 2,000 by October. If enough students protest the hardships of the time zone differences, the University may have to accommodate them.

"I hate having to wake up at insane hours just to open a computer," Watkins said.

His grades have dropped significantly, and he has a hard time prioritizing his workload along with staying focused. He is not alone.

"I have to be very conscious in remembering that my homework is not due at midnight. It's due at 11:00 p.m.," said Alex Harmon, a second-year business major from St. Louis, Missouri.

Throughout the semester, Harmon has turned in multiple late assignments because he turned in his homework at midnight in the central time zone.

"The time zone is affecting my grades because I have less time to do assignments," Harmon said. "I am not a morning person, so I scheduled my classes at a later time just to have them pushed an hour earlier because of the time difference."

Harmon is frustrated, feeling that students residing in a different location such as the Midwest or West Coast should be given extensions to deadlines.

"This disadvantage either makes me sleepy during class or I miss class altogether," said DessRae Lampkins, a second-year chemical engineering major from St. Louis, Missouri.

Lampkins has an attendance rate of 80% due to accidentally sleeping through some of her classes. She admits that she forgets her school follows the Eastern time zone, and it is negatively impacting her grade.

"Imagine waking up at 5:00 a.m. to attend 9:00 a.m. classes in addition to having your homework due at 11:59 p.m. which is actually 9:00 p.m. if you live on the West Coast," said Genea'Vi Smith, a second-year psychology major residing in Los Angeles, California.

"I feel like I am being punished for living in California!"

Like Watkins and Lampkins, Smith also complained of a lack of sleep, so she asks every teacher to record class sessions.

"Even if it may not be beneficial to you, it could significantly impact someone else. I know that I am always going back and watching recorded lectures."

Lampkins is sick of the virtual semester and hopes classes will resume physically in the Spring 2021 semester.

"Can we please make more classes so time zones can be accommodated and there will be less homework?" Lampkins asked.

Later class times will help students function more efficiently, they said.

A lack of physical academic support is also a problem.The distance from classmates is difficult and virtual study groups are not as beneficial.

Another common hurdle is the mind-numbing routine of constantly staring at computer screens.

"Teachers need to try and make the classes more interactive. It's hard to stay engaged when staring at your screen for an hour while being lectured," said Harmon.

Also, with the Fall 2020 semester being cut short, professors have to condense course information into a shorter time frame.

Students are pleading for their professors to understand the challenges that come with a virtual, and shortened, semester.

"Stop trying to make us turn on the cameras. We are virtually learning. Why do you want to see my face? What is it that you're trying to see that I'm doing? It seems like teachers are trying to be dictators and not everyone has a fancy laptop with camera and audio," said Imani Johnson, a junior liberal studies major from Chicago, Illinois.

"A lot of classes want you to turn your camera on and look presentable. So, you have to still get ready even though classes are virtual. This makes you have to wake up usually an hour before class."

Some professors are making allowances. Professors in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism, such as Lynn Waltz and Christopher Underation, have given out their cell phone numbers on the syllabus and have advised students that text is a great method of communication.

As night begins to fall, Watkins prepares for bed with a sense of optimism. He feels better knowing that he is not the only one having a hard time

Beloved Navy Pier Closes

By Brooklyn Young

(JAC 210 assignment for Prof. Waltz)

After losing $20 million since the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chicago Navy Pier closed its doors on Labor Day. The beloved lakefront attraction, created in 1959, normally has nearly 9 million visitors per year.

The Pier is facing a staggering 20% decrease in visitors. The financial burden that the Pier and over 70 businesses there are facing is striking, as a result of these numbers.

"My students love the Shakespeare Theater. I am in just disbelief to see that I will not get to expose them to my favorite theater in Chicago. This is pretty selfish, but I hope that this will lead to a stronger comeback for the Pier," said CPS teacher, Sloan Greco.

During the beginning of the pandemic, Navy Pier closed their doors from March 16 through June 10. Getting their numbers back since then has been the biggest challenge. Enacting safety measures and having their numbers up to par was a tough battle. Only certain parts of the Pier have been re-opened, causing more visitors to stay away.

Travel restrictions have also reduced the number of visitors, who make up 40% of clientele.

Navy Pier holds more than 50-acres of land, with numerous restaurants, the infamous Centennial Wheel, Chicago's Children's Museum, Shakespeare Theater, Winter Wonderland, ice skating, water taxi rides, tour boats, shops, cruises, and more adventures. Navy Pier is a treasured attraction to so many Chicago natives and visitors.

Navy Pier also hosts festivals, movie nights on the lawn, seasonal celebrations, signature events, and provides a place for 2,000+ artists and over 80 cultural partners. They also host special events like weddings. The true harlequin of attractions is the "Raq."

In an attempt to keep these businesses going, the Pier has also provided rent-relief resulting in more revenue losses for the nonprofit, which depends solely on support from financial contributors, since 2011.

"Well, we have been through this once before and we have prepared for it as much as possible, but it will be hard. Most of our traffic comes through the Pier," said Odyssey Boat Cruise team member, Jasmine Bundy.

While this crew is trying to stay afloat, I Dream of Falafel (IDOF) restaurant manager is also adjusting to the transition, helping get their other businesses up and running.

"Though we have multiple locations, our primary business is [at the Pier]. We hope this is not permanent." said IDOF manager, Jill Schmidt.

Navy Pier is the most visited attraction in Illinois, there is hope for a reopening in Spring 2021,

The Pier is still accepting donations starting at $25 on the Navy Pier website, via mail or through stock for free programs and in support to local artists and organizations.

HU professor creates space for discussion during pandemic and racial injustice

By: Ciara White-Sparks

(JAC 310 assignment for Prof. Waltz)

Hampton University professor April Woodard created a new livestream show this summer for her followers on Facebook to provide an outlet for entertainment and serious conversation during COVID-19.

With diverse weekly topics from racial unrest to the art of expression, the show included national celebrities like comedian Marlon Wayans and local activists like Professor Earl Caldwell, an icon during the Civil Rights movement.

The show streamed every Thursday at 5 p.m. EST and ran from June to early August. In the span of twelve weeks, ten shows were produced.

The third episode, called "Race and Unrest," caught the attention of HULU employees who hired Woodard to give a diversity workshop for their employees covering topics of diversity in the workplace and creating a place of inclusivity for employees within the company.

Woodard knew she wanted to create something that would allow deep conversations in the midst of the pandemic, by calling the series "Conversations in Chaos."

"I was initially inspired by my own personal experience, but as I continued to watch the news and consume more media I began to wonder, what outlets have been put into place to discuss what is happening around us," said Woodard.

This summer America experienced widespread hardship from violence, social distancing, unemployment, mental health, virtual learning, and police brutality, with the killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaad Aubrey.

Episodes like, "Law and Disorder" and "Back to School" opened a dialogue with viewers to discuss the ongoing issues that many American's yearned to talk about.

The Back-to-School segment featured current preschool teacher, Alexandra Nassar and Dr. Portia Rawles, a Psychologist to discuss how teachers and students are coping with this virtual learning environment.

"This new normal is hard for all of us, and now transitioning into starting back this upcoming August, certain states are proposing that we hold both in-person classes and virtual sessions, which poses the risk of infection amongst students," said Nassar during the livestream.

While other episodes like, "Mental Health in Mayhem" with America's psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere tackled the reality of mentally coping with the pandemic and how to properly heal during these times.

"The pandemic has had many iterations and consequences and mental health has to be the biggest one of them all. COVID-19 has shifted the psychological state of people across the world and effected their livelihoods," Gardere said.

Although the show's main focus was current national issues, Woodard also featured lighter topics of creativity and film.

One episode included Sekou Writes, a producer and writer who has released two projects based on his experiences during quarantine.

Audience members responded to his vision and passion for creating a film about how COVID-19 forces people to "mask" themselves during a pandemic.

"We are taking off the COVID mask and figurative mask. I wanted to capture the raw reactions of people and how they felt being in this climate and be forced to endure various hardships while wearing a "mask," said Writes during the livestream.

Episode seven featured actor and content creator Zeus Campbell, who spoke on the importance of storytelling in this virtual climate.

The episode displayed his personal projects and a "call to action" for the younger generation to tell their individual stories during this time.

"Young people have such a unique and innovative mindset, and now more than ever we need young storytellers to in this industry. Their ability to create stories is beyond imagination, so why not let your stories be heard," Campbell said.

When developing the show topics and selecting panelists, Woodard prioritized her a younger audience. She invited student journalists to intern and help develop, create, and gain hands-on experience in virtual production.

"As a Professor, I urge my students to walk away from their internships with a reel, press decks and something that they can use for their portfolio. That is how I structure my internships with that main focus in mind and now my students know how to produce a live stream show," Woodard said.

Student interns were given the opportunity to book, produce, write, and edit content for the show, give ideas, suggestions, and content concepts.

In a time with cancelled internships and low employment opportunities, three Hampton University students were able to gain hands-on work to help build their career portfolios.

"I was excited to be offered the opportunity to work alongside an individual in the media industry on a project that would give me experience into what skills I should sharpen to be competitive once I graduate--especially during a pandemic where others weren't so fortunate to be as active," said summer intern Lauryn Bass.

Although Woodard invited many high-profile guests to her show, she was confident that her summer interns would remain professional and produce quality work.

One student intern called the summer "unforgettable," describing booking guests and late-night editing as skills that will transfer into future careers, she said.

"I took a risk, and it was well worth it. Each student went above and beyond to provide quality content and represented very well. I was happy in my selection and proud of the work that they did during the course of the show," Woodard said.

When famous comedian Marlon Wayans aired his episode, the show had over 1,000 views on Facebook, the largest turnout of the season.

The smallest streams were in the 150 - 200 range, including the Art of Expression panel with Professional Dancer, Tashara Gavin-Moorehead and Producer Sekou Writes.

When deciding which platform to use, Woodard believed that streaming over Facebook Live would be the most effective, since she already had a large following there and the platform lets the audience comment live.

The streaming platform also allowed the show to be automatically uploaded to YouTube, letting viewers revisit episodes and expanding the conversations to more people online.

Conversations in Chaos produced episodes that provided households with various topics and issues to discuss. Woodard knew that creating this show would generate a buzz and have a powerful impact on those in her general following.

"This show really expanded beyond my circle of people, even taking the conversation to HULU was an honor in itself," Woodard said. "These segments were timely issues and deserved to be discussed, especially during these difficult times."

Back to School in Northville Amid COVID-19

By Sierra Steele (JAC 210 assignment for Prof. Waltz)

As most kids are opening their laptops and preparing for zoom lectures, some middle schoolers and high schoolers at Northville Public Schools (NPS) are dusting off their backpacks for in-person classes starting Oct. 2.

"I never thought I would be this excited to go back to school," said Northville High School (NHS) Sophomore Victoria Winfield. Northville Schools have been operating remotely online since Sept. 8 due to safety concerns over COVID-19.

Now, high school and middle school students will get to choose whether they want to attend in-person classes every other day, continue learning virtually or put together a hybrid of the two.

"I'm honestly impressed with NPS for giving families the option to choose what works best for them," NHS alumni Sophie Kenward said. "There is no one size fits all and I can't imagine being a child experiencing all of this."

Students and parents say they are torn between excitement for the new year and concern over the virus.

Still, it's not a simple choice.

Many parents are putting aside their fears about the virus and focusing on the impact of virtual learning on the mental and social wellbeing of their children.

"My daughter needs socialization," said school board candidate and parent Sherrie Winfield. "I understand people's concerns, I have my own too, but I have to think about what is best for my child right now."

Some students need in-person instruction more than others, according to the education specialists of McKinsey & Company. Students entering a new phase of education such as kindergarteners, 9th graders, and students transitioning out of high school need in-person training more than the general student population.

"My son is very introverted," said parent Ceresa Hayes. "It's his freshman year, and I want him to experience some in-person instruction so that he can have a smooth transition into high school."

Children who require childcare, special education students, homeless students, English as a second language students, students in abusive environments and those without access to the internet are high priority for in-person learning.

As a result, NPS opted for a full in-person return for special education students and elementary school students.

Fewer than half (43.6%) of parents wanted a full-time in-person start, according to a district wide survey, while about three in ten (29.6%) wanted a hybrid start and 26.8% wanted full-time virtual learning.

"I think it's a bad idea for students to go back in person full time because there are still so many cases and so many at risk people. I think right now hybrid classes are a good compromise," said NHS alumnus Audrey Schikora .

As of August, nearly all Michigan counties meet school reopening standards, including maintaining a 14-day average daily infection rate below 5%.

Teachers are nervous either way.

"I can see both sides of the argument. As a future teacher, I would definitely be worried about my health and the health of my students during this time, so I'd definitely be nervous to be in a classroom right now," said Special Education and Elementary Education major and NHS alumni Riley Huggins. "On the other hand, I know that many parents have to work and don't have someone to watch their kids."

According to McKinsey Global Institute, the increased burden of unpaid childcare inflicted by the pandemic is a significant factor in women's rising level of unemployment.

There are also concerns about mental health issues as students are isolated.

"I've gone through a real depression since quarantine, and it sucks being stuck in my room trying to participate through a screen. It's probably way worse for kids," said NHS alumni and Michigan State University student Jayson James.

Based upon the state's current rates of COVID-19 cases and testing, school districts in most Michigan counties can safely reopen for class instruction.

The city of Northville is at Phase 4 of the MI State Start Plan: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's plan to re-engage Michigan's economy.

Phase 4 is considered to be in the "improving phase" where cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to the virus are clearly declining.

The state requires students sixth grade and up to wear face coverings in classrooms and other common areas during the school day. A new executive order taking effect on Oct. 5 will require the use of masks for elementary school children in classrooms in all regions at Phase 4.

The district will also be following its 'NPS COVID-19 Preparedness and Reentry Plan' and the 'NPS Extended Continuity of Learning Plan' outlining current operational and instructional plans, both approved by the Board of Education.

"I guess I am kind of excited to go back to school in person. I'm just really curious how things would work," said high school freshman Samir Steele. "But at the same time, I don't want to be around people because of Corona."

Charlotte Students Virtually Getting By – Barely

By Nyle Paul (JAC 210 assignment for Prof. Waltz)

Imagine trying to complete an important writing assignment that is due at 11:59 p.m., and the schoolwork submission portal completely shuts down for the rest of the day.

That has been the reality for students in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School District since it shifted to virtual learning to protect students from COVID-19.

After initially letting students opt-in or out of virtual learning, the district went fully virtual one week before classes were scheduled to begin. The abrupt shift has students, teachers, administrations, and especially technical staff, scrambling to patch things together.

The first week of school was filled with technical difficulties, schedule uncertainties, and multiple phone calls.

The YMCA's School + program, where students come to attend their online classes, has tried to fill in the gaps and support students who are frustrated and discouraged.

From incorrect schedules, to lost zoom links and submission portals, to overwhelmed servers, nearly everything went wrong. Students who were new to the school didn't have their teachers' names or class schedules.

Chromebooks were glitching. The Canvas portal, which stores all of the students' class zoom links and submission slots, was down due to the high usage of the server, which provides internet to numerous school districts within North Carolina.

IT difficulties are plaguing schools across the nation. With schools swiftly switching to online, there has not been time to adequately test for the performance of IT servers under high usage volume. As a result, servers malfunctioned.

"As a district, we do not practice e-learning a whole lot," said Thomas Nawrocki, executive director of IT at Charleston County School District, said. "Once they started talking about teachers sending lessons via Google Drive or Google Meets, we had to act pretty quick."

The district uses an interface for teachers to post assignments and grades, but it has had problems as well. "I have had some difficulties with turning my work in on time due to the Canvas portal malfunctioning," said Peyton Paul, a 10-grade student enrolled in CMS.

Some of the IT issues stem from at-home difficulties.

"There were probably about 12 to 15 million students that did not have internet access at all," said educational digital divide researchers Nicol Turner Lee.

Some blame the school district for being unprepared.

"I do not believe that CMS prepared themselves to operate successfully in the virtual learning shift," said Stephanie Nelson, a parent to a high schooler enrolled in CMS. "It does not seem like they ran tests on the programs to ensure that there would be no major issues like what we're experiencing. I understand that this is new for CMS, but better preparation could have been taken."

The virtual learning tools are confusing to both students and teachers.

"The way that the schedules are set up is confusing. Logging in and out of zoom is confusing as well. The teachers do not really know how to operate all of the programs, either" said Jazmine Higgins, a 10th grader enrolled in CMS. "There are many times where we are helping the teachers navigate through the programs."

Still, some students find the virtual learning shift to be a relief.

"I enjoy not being in the in-person environment because I have the freedom to do more things, however I do think that this virtual learning shift has made me a little lax," said Peyton Paul.

At the YMCA School + program, counselors are concerned that students are losing focus and motivation. When the school technology fails, some students shift their attention to YouTube, TikTok, and many other social media and gaming sites, one counselor said. When the virtual learning portal is running smooth, the students are more engaged in their classes and schoolwork.

"It is now going into the 4th week of school for CMS," one counselor said. "Some progress has been made since the first week of school, but CMS still has a long way to go."

A New Type of Journalism

By Bria Dickerson (JAC 310 assignment for Prof. Waltz)

New age journalists are changing the narrative on how people view the news. Though journalists are still writing stories and submitting them to newspapers; some journalists are taking an uncommon path to tell stories using "non-traditional journalism."

Today's non-traditional journalists can share stories through podcasts, on a YouTube channel, or through social media. These new and innovative platforms are freeing journalists to find a new route to share stories.

"Non-traditional journalism to me is finding a way to tell stories and communicate information using techniques and mediums that are fairly new and were not popular a couple of generations ago," said Jeremy Price, the Senior Editor at Next Big Idea Club.

Price, who considers himself a non-traditional journalist has experienced firsthand what it is like to use an unconventional way of telling stories.

At the Next Big Idea Club, Jeremy is responsible for interviewing authors, writing scripts for video content, and curating content to post for the company's website and app.

"Non-traditional journalism was a gradual learning process," Price said. "You can write, report, or make videos about anything on the planet that interests you. That is all within the scope of non-traditional journalism."

Because of the growing assortment of media, jobs in the traditional newsroom for a newspaper company are evolving into jobs in the digital media field.

From 2008 to 2019, newsroom employment dropped by nearly a quarter, from 114,000 to about 88,000, according to the Pew Research Center.

Meanwhile, employment in the digital native news sector has doubled, from 7,400 workers to 16,100 workers in 2019.

One reason is the loss of advertising dollars from newspapers.

"Facebook and Google are sucking up all the ad dollars," Price said. "Newspapers are going to struggle. We are going to see a lot of closing of local newspapers."

New journalistic media companies, such as Vice, have extended their content to different platforms, like HBO, Vice Magazine, and Vice's website. But the company still struggles to bring in revenue in an ever-changing industry as it seeks a new business model for news.

To ride this new wave, journalists should not only write well, but also know how to edit a video, design a graphic for Instagram, and record audio.

"Media and journalism are changing so quickly there is an increase in demand of people who can do it all," Price said.

Though this is a growing field and opportunities abound takes time to break through.

In this field, journalists have to build their portfolio before a big opportunity can break. Taking smaller risk projects as a freelance writer/ producer will prove to bigger companies that an up and comer is the right journalist for the job.

All this comes with a price. Or hardly a price at all. Non-traditional journalists usually get paid little for their efforts at first, unless they can find a company to sponsor them.

"When I was working for the rock band website, I only got paid $100 for about 12 stories," Price said. "But it did build my resume."

Being a journalist in this day and age calls for flexibility and being able to find your own niche as a journalist, but most importantly, a storyteller.

"In order to be a successful journalist, you must have a high tolerance of risk and failure," Price said. "But also, you must be curious and indulge in that curiosity.

Waffles are Better than Pancakes

By Camille Birdsong (Assignment for JAC 310, Prof. Waltz. Family members interviewed with permission of professor.)

Waking up and smelling the wonderful scent of breakfast that wafted into his room, Marcus ran downstairs to the kitchen. Sitting at the table, he eagerly waited for breakfast to be served. His mother was holding a large plate of something that smelled rather delicious and made Marcus's mouth water. In front of him were three perfectly golden, round, crispy waffles drizzled with warm maple syrup. Marcus's eyes shimmered with delight; this truly would be a delicious breakfast unlike the soggy, floppy, and slightly undercooked pancakes from last week.

Waffles have been around for a while in the USA, but you've probably heard of Belgian waffles too. Even the "Belgian" waffles that are sold in America aren't the same as those found in Belgium. In fact, according to The Buyers Impact, they're a combination of a few varieties that are popular in towns across the country.

Waffles are usually made in a waffle iron which gives them their distinctive cut and shape, with large square ridges and indents. The Buyers Impact says that Belgian waffles were first introduced to America in the 1950s and 1960s when Walter Cleyman (Belgian of course) began showing them at two World Fairs, first in Belgium and then in Seattle.

Waffles were a hit at the Seattle World Fair and Cleyman sold over 500,000 servings in that expo alone. He eventually created his own waffle house in Seattle after the show finished (maybe that's where Waffle House came from?).

Now, I know what you're thinking, "Pancakes are just as good!" Don't get me wrong, I love pancakes too, and I know they have a rich history (not a rich flavor, however) but waffles are special. Something about them makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Whereas pancakes don't provide the same warmth.

"Waffles are just pancakes with abs when you think about it," said Cristina Birdsong, a member of the Birdsong household.

If there is one thing I know, is that Ms. Cristina Birdsong is always right when it comes to food. Waffles simply are superior and boy, do those "abs" pack a punch.

Take the square waffle for example. According to PopSugar, with its compact squares, the waffle's texture allows for peak topping storage. If you wish for your butter and maple syrup to stay put, then just drizzle them into the waffle's squares and they'll stay in place.

Pancakes are better at soaking up syrup, yes, but I would rather not have soggy breakfast food, and that's what pancakes become after just a short while. With waffles, I am all for those crunchy little squares holding foods like chopped nuts and berries in place. But with pancakes, those tiny things will just fall right off the stack (and maybe onto the floor).

Both plain pancakes and waffles are a little sweet and bready, but according to Chowhound, waffles are more so because they have more butter and sugar in the batter. Plus, they get more caramelized during cooking, so they taste richer and more pastry-like. Doesn't that sound fancy?

Sadly, pancakes can still taste raw and bitter in the middle when not quite cooked through--but even when they're perfect, they're still a bit blander before bringing in the toppings.

Of course, you can't forget about versatility. Waffles win in that category too. When it comes to sweetness, with butter and syrup or whipped cream and berries, waffles are equally matched, but remember that pancakes still have the soggy factor. Both can have extra flavors like gingerbread and vanilla. You can mix things in from chocolate chips to blueberries and beyond, so I'll give pancakes a point too.

But it's the flavor profile that is unmatched. This is mostly thanks to their texture, which––whether they're cheddar waffles, sourdough waffles, or basic buttermilk––can stand up not just to the timeless fried chicken, but even chili or cream gravy. If you're wondering where you find those types of waffles, try your local diner, but if you do, hold on for dear life.

They also make better sandwiches than pancakes do. Want to make a PB&J with waffles instead of bread? I don't, but you can because the glorious waffle will hold your fillings right where they belong.

Lastly, waffles are portable. Well, at least some types are. For example, Eggo waffles are a staple in American households because you can put them in a toaster and eat in on the go. Pancakes: do I even need to ask?

Waffles are amazing and so are pancakes. I enjoy both and I'm sure you do too. Although, its evident that I like one a little bit more than the other. I don't think anything could beat waffles. Except for crepes, but I am not ready for that conversation just yet.

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