There’s a statement on the top left corner of The Alligator’s newspaper: We inform. You decide.
It’s a promise we’ve all kept the second we became a part of The Alligator. That promise has pushed us through many cycles of difficult news since 1906: wars, epidemics, hurricanes and, now, the COVID-19 pandemic.
These stories have affected our staff in the past. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting us the same.
When our president told us to go home, we packed up, and we reported stories while we did it. We called sources between our Zoom lectures and we wrote stories between Canvas assignments.
We were disappointed when our semesters were canceled, too. We were saddened when our graduation was postponed. All this to say that we use that perspective to further our reporting, but it further challenges us.
The Alligator has produced dozens of stories, sometimes in mere minutes, because of our promise. We have limited staff and resources, and we’re paid very little. But that doesn’t stop us from putting everything we have into our coverage. The same can be said about hundreds of other student newsrooms.
That’s why today student newsrooms across the country are coming together in a day of action to #SaveStudentNewsrooms. The movement started two years ago by previous Alligator editors to show the challenges student newsrooms experience, which has been heightened from the pandemic.
Journalism’s business decline couldn’t have come at a worse time. During a public health crisis, accurate information is an essential business.
Journalists have also been furloughed or laid off by their companies in such a critical time. Some newspapers have closed. This is the job market some of our graduates are entering, too. Student newspapers like The Alligator have filled in the gap of news deserts and are writing a rough draft of their campus’ and community’s history.
The Alligator hasn’t been immune to business challenges from COVID-19. We’ve had to reduce printing our newspaper from three days a week to once a week. We’re handling coverage with staff all over the country. And we’re still editing a newspaper entirely over Zoom. Our promise is that important.
And similar to how the world has come together to help those in need, we’re asking you to take #SaveStudentNewsrooms into your own hands. When newspapers took down their paywalls, The Alligator was already giving out its print and online content for free.
A story at The Alligator can be done with just $10. That’s it. But we know that as millions have lost their jobs, every penny counts.
We hope you’ve found our work to be valuable during such a difficult time. Any tax-deductible donation helps keep a student newspaper’s free journalism going.
We encourage you to help us by helping yourselves during this time. The best way to support local journalists and your community is to follow accurate sources and recommendations from local, state and national health officials. It’ll help you and save lives all around you.
Christina Morales, Editor-in-Chief
Lina Ruiz, Digital Managing Editor
River Wells, Engagement Managing Editor
The following are some of the stories our staff has broken throughout the pandemic.
Alligator staff from the Spring 2020 semester pose for a photo during a Zoom meeting. The incoming Summer 2020 staff reports remotely and communicates using the video conferencing service.