In the first issue of The Badger Herald, Patrick S. Korten wrote what is now the Herald’s guiding principle.
“This newspaper is an experiment,” Korten wrote. “We are attempting to do that which has never been done before. To succeed in that experiment, we must have the support of all who believe in what we are doing.”
When the Herald’s first Editor-in-Chief wrote these words more than 50 years ago, a global pandemic was likely the farthest thing from his mind. Until a few months ago, the same could be said of the current Herald staff.
As of 5:00 p.m. on March 14, 2020, there was one confirmed case of COVID-19 on the University of Wisconsin’s campus, six cases in Dane County and 27 total cases statewide, with one recovered, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Though students may not be present on UW’s campus, the story does not stop — and neither will we.
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As humanity nears unfamiliar territory in light of the coronavirus pandemic, so too does the future of student journalism. The financial repercussions of the virus have not been fully realized, but the Herald is taking precautions to make sure the decreased advertising revenue a nationwide shutdown can cause will not affect the quality of our coverage.
That being said, it is important to remember that The Badger Herald is an experiment — in times of crisis, we pledge to stay true to our roots. As students are no longer on UW’s campus, the Herald decided to suspend print production indefinitely. We are using this uncertain time to experiment with new multimedia formats, grow our social media presence and further innovate as a digital-first publication. Our campus community may be physically separated as this unprecedented pandemic unfolds, but the Herald will continue to serve the UW community regardless.?
Whenever a major news story occurs, it is easy to fall victim to exaggeration — but we find it accurate to say the coronavirus epidemic may be the biggest, rapidly-moving and ever-changing story of our lifetime. People are falling ill and dying. Politicians are grappling with policy decisions they never planned on making. The stock market severely fluctuates each day. Millions of students, from kindergarten to college, are no longer allowed in the classroom. And events that normally distract us from the world’s ills — sporting events, concerts, theatrical productions, religious gatherings — are canceled to protect public safety.?
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All this is to say our coverage may look different, but it will not stop. Our news team is committed to providing round-the-clock coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in Wisconsin, including the latest safety guidelines from health authorities for students and the broader campus community. At the same time, our editorial section will continue to provide insightful analysis of the virus’ impacts on Wisconsinites and society. Many claim the media is overexaggerating this story and creating a narrative fueling unnecessary precautions and unadulterated panic — we seek to provide UW students, the Madison community, Wisconsin and the world with proof that this is not true.
So as we continue the experiment in this time of uncertainty, let us hearken back to the words of our founder — “Welcome to the pages of The Badger Herald. You, and others like you in the University of Wisconsin community, are about to witness a significant departure in the history of student journalism on the Madison campus.”
The Badger Herald Editorial Board serves to represent the voice of the editorial department, distinct from the newsroom and does not necessarily reflect the views of each staff member.