COVID-19 and The World of Journalism

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About two years ago the world would face one of the worst pandemics in human history: COVID-19. This virus changed the entire world for the better part of the last 2 years. Masks, gloves, quarantining, lockdowns, and food shortages, this period of time was one of unfamiliarity for many. However, one group of people who were affected by COVID-19 was journalists. 

I interviewed Christopher Maag of the Daily Record and Bob Brookover of The Star-Ledger. Maag writes many eye-opening and informative stories about a variety of topics, including COVID-19. He has written for The New York Times, TIME magazine, and many more popular media outlets. Bob Brookover is a beat writer for the New York Giants, who formerly wrote about all the sports teams in Philadelphia. Brookover has been in the field for 40 years and is very experienced in what he does. Both have had experience writing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and both have insight into the topic. 

Maag writes many articles about COVID-19, so when asked “What kind of effect did COVID-19 have on the world of professional journalism?” Maag responded, “Most newsrooms I know of are still either closed entirely or open only a few days a week. This is a serious problem. The best way to learn journalism is to do it, and the best way to do it is in the company of older and more experienced journalists.” Coming from someone who is currently in the field of journalism, this paints a concerning picture. Aspiring Journalists are not able to actually get experience and knowledge from their peers because they are unable to be in newsrooms. 

With how widespread COVID-19 was, and still is, the amount of misinformation that has been spread about it is shocking. I inquired “What precautions do you take to ensure your collected information is accurate? Whether it be information about COVID-19 or just any information in general.” Maag replied “Finding accurate information about COVID-19 is really easy. Never trust anything you see on… any of the rapidly proliferating websites with a business model that depends on lies, conspiracy theories, and strong emotional appeals. Rely instead on interviews with accredited scientists and doctors at reputable institutions like Rutgers, Harvard, Stanford, etc.” Being a Journalist requires many things, but honesty and accurate information are some of the most important qualities you can have.” 

For my second interview, I interviewed Bob Brookover. Bob is very experienced and has seen many changes over time, so I figured he would be a great candidate to interview. My first question was “Obviously COVID-19 had a significant impact on sports, but what effect did it have on sports journalism?” Brookover responded, “It entirely changed the way sports journalists did their jobs. Initially, we had to create a lot of stories without any games to cover. That meant doing a lot of historical pieces about the teams we covered. When the games returned, we still did not have in-person access to the players and coaches because of the pandemic. That meant opportunities to develop closer relationships were strained.” COVID-19 restricted a lot of things, and this response shows the hardships of writing about sports when there weren’t even any games being played. 

With his last response in mind, I questioned, “What was your initial reaction to sports leagues beginning to shut down because of COVID-19?” Brookover replied, “It figuratively made me feel sick for a lot of reasons. I have lived through and covered a lot of sad events during my career. I was in the air on my way to cover a Phillies-Braves game as planes were flying into buildings on 9/11. I was in Los Angeles when the riots broke out in 1991 after the acquittal of the police officers who beat Rodney King. I ended up covering the events that followed for a week and it was really sad on so many levels. The pandemic made me feel the same way. We are a country that loves sports and the games create such a nice distraction for people in the worst of times.” I feel like this response gives a good idea of where a lot of long-time journalists’ minds were when COVID-19 first began, whether they be sports journalists or journalists in general. 

With the help of these two journalists, I was able to better understand the effect that COVID-19 had on journalism. These responses opened my eyes to some circumstances and hardships that I hadn’t even thought of. Even if they write about different topics, their responses still show the drastic effect that COVID-19 had, and still has on Journalism.