As mid-March rolls around, the U.S. has reached its one-year anniversary of dealing with the turmoil caused by coronavirus. Over the course of that year, journalism has shifted and adapted heavily as COVID-19 has seeped itself into all aspects of coverage. Throughout Athens, multiple student and local news sources and publications have tirelessly covered the impact of COVID-19, and they all deserve a round of applause for their exhausting but essential work.
COVID-19 has taken so many lives, impacted billions more, incited devastating economic decline, canceled the aspects of life that bring us joy and so much more, but despite those hardships, journalists far and wide have been striving to deliver informative news.
When talking about the pandemic, things such as Zoom and working-from-home fatigue have been brought up. Something that’s not been so readily discussed is the second-hand trauma and exhaustion journalists feel from covering such harrowing stories. No, journalists aren’t on the frontline like the courageous doctors and nurses that are working diligently to save lives, but they have been there to report on countless deaths and stories circling COVID-19.
Secondary trauma is a seemingly taboo topic to talk about amongst journalists, leading it to be something non-journalists don’t recognize at all. Journalists have gone into war zones, natural disasters, the aftermath of mass shootings and more, all in the name of reporting facts to the public. With the rise of social media and user-generated content, distressing content for journalists has only grown. By so frequently immersing oneself in these types of atmosphere, one is exposed to the trauma of these events -- sometimes without even knowing so. It’s important journalists talk about this trauma and seek help if need be to eradicate that stigma.
With the coronavirus pandemic, I’d say it’s safe to argue that everyone in some way, shape or form has been traumatized by it. It’s not natural to halt life, pick up your job or schooling and move it to your home and go on complete lockdown or quarantine — nevertheless, that’s been what’s necessary to combat the deadly virus. But where some people have tried to disassociate from it all, journalists are heading straight into the line of fire.
In Athens County alone, there have been 50 deaths and 4,711 cases, per The Post’s latest weekly update. Throughout the entire state of Ohio, there have been just under 18,000 deaths and roughly 845,000 cases. Covering so much death and sadness isn’t easy for journalists.
Despite this, journalists carry on because the mission of their job is to deliver important, factual news to citizens. At the core of journalism is truth, and if journalists didn’t cover both the bad and good news, it would be a disservice.
Recently, journalists got to celebrate by reporting on the expansion of COVID-19 vaccines in Ohio. As of March 29, anyone 16 and older can receive the vaccine in an effort to hopefully stop this virus. Active COVID-19 cases in both Athens County and all of Ohio are on a steady decline, but that doesn’t mean the pandemic is anywhere near over. Going forward, journalists will continue to be there to cover the highs and lows of the pandemic and it’s long-lasting impacts.