Fanni Frankl is a junior journalism major who is also an assistant opinions editor at The Statesman.
Undoubtedly, the coronavirus (COVID-19) took a toll on everyone’s summer this year. Vacations cancelled, hangouts and parties postponed, and many jobs and internships ran over Zoom. While my summer was not what I expected it to be, I still consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to intern for two publications: amNY and the Long Island Press. Trying to juggle two internships, working as an assistant editor at The Statesman, and keeping in contact with my friends all while being uncertain for what lies ahead was overwhelming, but gratifying. Keeping up with this rigorous schedule during a pandemic proved to be a mental and physical challenge.
My typical day during the summer consisted of waking up, greeted by the buzz of my phone to an email detailing my next assignment for the day. Sending countless emails to sources requesting comment for the latest lawsuit, newest attraction or trial, became the norm as I rushed to finish my latest article by the deadline. Conducting all of my interviews over the phone and email felt alien to me since as a journalism student, these forms of communication are often seen as taboo. It is emphasized in the journalism department that interviews should almost always be conducted in person. While communicating remotely was not as personal, having the convenience of being able to communicate with my sources from my room was a relief.
However, having to completely rely on technology is another stress that I had to get used to. During one week in July, I did not have an internet connection at my house. I had no choice but to go outside onto the sidewalk to write all of my articles, call sources while taking notes and do research all on one phone while using data. I knew that this was a struggle that I would not have had to experience if I was in an office setting. Though learning to overcome such difficulties and adapt to challenges became a skill that I was able to garner despite the stress at the time.
Being a reporter during the COVID-19 pandemic is a job that makes a difference in people’s lives. During these times when everything is so uncertain, people rely on the news more than ever to inform them about what is happening in the ever-changing world. I became the medium for individuals who may not have watched the governor’s press conference, had access to trial documents or witnessed the effects the pandemic has had on others. Having that responsibility made me feel like I had a purpose – a feeling that I realized many felt like they lacked this summer.
While it is easy to complain that this summer was not what anyone really wanted, I feel it is important to focus on the opportunities that made it worthwhile. I was lucky enough to write for two publications and contribute to the hectic pandemic reporting that has become the standard for many news organizations today. Some stories I covered were a New York State Liquor authority lawsuit, infrastructure issues along the East River and social distancing violations in Long Island during the Fourth of July. I had the pleasure of expanding my experience as a journalist, and adapting to changes that make one realize that nothing is set in stone and that you just have to keep moving forward.