HERE WE ARE#J4450

Hey blog.

I haven’t written in a while. Here’s why.

This time two weeks ago, I was still at Mizzou. I was still living with my friends, going about a somewhat normal life given the current circumstances. Then, my housing unit I lived in decided to close. I had 48 hours to get up and get out.

I am writing this from my house in Texas, where I will be living for the foreseeable future. I never would have thought I would be in this position right now, but so much is changing that at this point, anything could happen.

If I am being honest, I am struggling. I need to be social to keep my mental state relatively sane, so being cooped up in the house hundreds of miles away from my friends is effectively my worst nightmare. It feels weird doing college things in my high school bedroom, under my parent’s roof when I am used to a more independent lifestyle. I am mourning the loss of the rest of my junior year, which was going to be tough but at least we were in it together. I also know a lot of people that are being hit close to home by the disease, with a lot of friends and loved ones knowing someone who has COVID-19. That’s the worst part, knowing that someone I love is sad and not being able to do anything to comfort them.

I am also experiencing a sensation I have never felt before: wanting to turn off the news. I am a journalist, so I should want to be more up to date on COVID-19 than anyone, right? Well, wrong. And I feel disappointed in myself for feeling this way. I love journalism and its value now is more apparent than ever, but I am finding myself to be really overwhelmed with anxiety and sadness about our reality. And I’ve come to accept that is what makes me human, and knowing my limits of negative news consumption is something I have unfortunately been forced to test out recently.

I am adapting to the situation more and more every day, and there are a lot of silver linings. I can cook again (yay!), be with my family again, and spend more time walking around outside than usual. If staying home is the most difficult thing I am asked to do in my lifetime, I am lucky. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its challenges, but I am adjusting accordingly.

I have my first remote GA shift tomorrow and am feeling much better mentally about it than this time last week. I am taking this all one day at a time, and choosing to see the bright spots in a world of uncertainty.

To end this vulnerable post, I’ll insert a quote from my all-time favorite book / movie series.

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

– Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

PANIC, PRECAUTION, AND BEING FLEXIBLE #J4450

What am I going to do now?

That’s the question that’s been running through my head the last two days.

COVID-19 is changing things. It’s dominating the news on all levels, and cities and states all over the map are trying to deal with a new threat to the public health. And it’s hitting close to home too.

The Missourian is staffed by reporters that are Mizzou students, and we take this as a class. Mizzou has moved to an all-online platform for the next week as a precautionary measure. That means big changes for our newsroom, as we are moving to a mostly remote working-style.

I can’t lie, I am a little overwhelmed. I get a news alert every 15 minutes about how the situation is changing, and it is very nervewracking to be so far away from my family at this time of uncertainty. But I saw a tweet yesterday that made me think about this situation in a different way.

Schools are closing, sporting events are being canceled, and flights and travel are being suspended. And naturally, we are covering it. This is huge news, there is no other way around it. And it is so overwhelming. The public is, well, freaking out. Everyone doesn’t know what to expect next, but I think there is a lot of hope in this situation that is going unseen.

These changes, although they can seem overdramatic, are a form of national solidarity. We are taking preventative measures to combat this situation escalating, and I think that is pretty great even if it is tough in the short term. People are saying that the media is making it seem more intense, but that is not “the media’s” intention (I could write a whole other blog on that phrase but that’s for a later date). We are covering this to keep people informed, give them the best medically-backed advice we can, and explaining how these actions, although scary, are for a common good to “flatten the curve”.

I want to end this post by saying one last thing. Staying informed is important, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say that staying informed on such a scary topic has effects on your mental health. A lot of my friends are nervous and I don’t blame them. Sometimes you need to mute your notifications, step away from the screen and enjoy some quality time with your loved ones. Stay up to date, but don’t forget to surround yourself with things that make you feel good.

Take care of yourself, mentally and physically. We will get through this together!

ELABORATE ON THAT, WOULD YOU?#J4450

Hey blog.

Happy Sunday. I hope it was filled with good weather and relaxation, as I know mine was.

This post is related to politics and journalism in a way, but it starts with something a little closer to home. This weekend, I was with my friends having a casual evening. We baked a cake, watched a movie, typical stuff. And then we started talking about politics.

It’s election season, so our ads are dominated by political campaigns and the headlines are filled with updates on Democratic candidates, new presidential policies, and more. It’s hard to miss and even harder not to think about.

Most of my friends are pretty similar in political views. We tend to migrate to the middle, some more right-leaning, and some more left-leaning. But as we were having a very mature discussion on political issues (yay us), we started talking about something that got me thinking about journalism.

As college students, we are very wrapped up in our own worlds. We try to stay up to date and informed on political issues, but sometimes it’s hard for us to really know what’s going on and even harder to know what candidate to vote for. That’s a void I think journalism can fill with the right approach.

Vox, for example, does a great job of putting out explanatory pieces on current issues in the world, political and beyond. They’re a great resource for me when I want to know more about something. I think those kinds of pieces would be especially helpful during election season because it would keep people up to date and also let us make our own choices about candidates based on a full explanation of both viewpoints on an issue. And this doesn’t just go for college kids. A lot of people want to be informed but are so daunted by the task of hunting for information about these issues that they choose to sit election season out. If journalism wants to encourage political participation, we need to do a better job of explaining all the avenues.

Journalism is supposed to inform the public, and I think an increase of explanatory journalism would provide the public with quality coverage on the stuff that matters as opposed to the constant horserace coverage we see today. I personally think that horserace coverage has its time, but needs a sisterly companion of explanation by its side every once and a while.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for more pieces like this, as I love them and think they’re a great resource for people who are trying to open their mind to different viewpoints.

A new week starts tomorrow. I’m hoping it’s a good one!