COVID-19 one year later: While many things change, Evergreen remains constant

Editor-in-chief covered pandemic when details were changing minute-to-minute; Evergreen will continue providing reliable, timely articles



Evergreen editor-in-chief Emma Ledbetter experienced consistency with the newspaper even during rapidly changing times.

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen news editor

One of my last memories before the world shut down was walking across Terrell Mall to an interview on the other side of campus. I had my cell phone to my ear and was waving to a few friends I saw on my way.

I had just gotten out of class in Bryan Hall. I spent most of that class writing an article about WSU’s plan to switch to online classes following spring break. My fingers shook the entire time as I typed out the few details we knew. 

After my interview across campus and a few phone calls to sources, I wrote two more articles about the virus that was already dominating headlines. 

Even though I am a student, I felt like I was reporting on the front lines of a major news event. Information seemed like it was changing minute-to-minute. I had no idea what the next development would be, just that I would be there to report it. 

It was simultaneously the most exhilarating and terrifying time of my life. 

Last March was an adrenaline-filled month that hardly seems real when I look back. We had no idea when we would return to in-person classes. I was hopeful we would be back on campus before the end of the spring semester. Boy, was I wrong.

WSU’s announcement to move online was novel — and not just because it was brought on by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Many WSU students had never taken an online class before. Now, we all have. 

I cannot say I could have predicted I would be sitting through online lectures one year later. 

Back when I was interviewing researchers and naively believing the pandemic would end in a few months, I was The Daily Evergreen’s beat reporter for COVID-19. Now, nearly every story is connected to the pandemic in one way or another. Every reporter has found a way to incorporate this virus into the stories they are telling. 

We have made so many changes other than the topics we are covering. We now print the paper only one day a week instead of five because so few students are on campus. We conduct our interviews over the phone or over Zoom. We have relied for a long time on sources supplying courtesy photos because we cannot always send a photographer to get their picture in person. 

Nevertheless, I remain hopeful because there are still a few things that have not changed. We are still dedicated — maybe now more than ever — to covering quality, timely stories that affect our readers. We are still the student voice of Washington State University. We are still watchdog journalists for the university and the Pullman community. And, most importantly, we are still here to report the truth. 

Personally, I doubt I would have been able to be editor-in-chief if the pandemic did not allow me to work and do classes from home. I also would not have experienced such fast-paced and relevant science writing, which furthered my desire to become a science journalist

Through all the changes and terrifying unknowns of the pandemic, the Evergreen has been one of the few constants in my life. I hope it can also be a constant source of reliable information for all of our readers.

With all that said, I am more ready than ever to get the vaccine and be done with this pandemic — and I look forward to reporting on that as it happens.