The Franklin will not publish print issues the rest of the semester to prioritize staff safety and online coverage
By Erica Irish and Emily Ketterer
Thank you all for your patience in receiving guidance on our staff direction in the wake of the growing coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak.
Our second issue of the spring semester — and our second issue as a news magazine – should have been published today. Under normal circumstances, our staff would have arrived in Shirk Hall this morning to receive and distribute another print edition.
But the facts are undeniable. The COVID-19 outbreak is entering a surge period in Indiana, so far sickening more than 6,900 and killing 300, according to the latest reports from the Indiana State Department of Health. The virus has killed 16 people in Johnson County.
Amid the fast-moving early stages of the outbreak last month, Franklin College President Kerry Prather announced our school would suspend in-person classes for the remainder of the semester, sending students home prior to the scheduled spring break to complete courses online.
With this reality in mind, it has become clear to the editors, along with recommendations from our adviser, Ryan Gunterman, that it would be both inadvisable and ineffective to continue with our plans to print monthly issues for the rest of the semester.
This is without a doubt one of the most painful decisions we have been forced to contemplate — and make — as editors. Suspending our print issues, particularly in the first semester of our rebrand as a magazine, is a drastic step that we did not consider lightly nor expect at the start of the semester. It hurts, and will hurt for some time.
We reached this conclusion, however, knowing that unprecedented times call for flexibility. It also requires that we remain focused on what will best serve our audience.
The Franklin College community is now spread across the state and, in some cases, the country. It remains unclear if life will return to normal in the coming months, making it unwise and potentially costly to assume people will be present on campus to receive our print issues.
Ultimately, we have determined it will be the best use of our time and energy not expended on a print issue to focus on expanded web coverage of both the stories we had planned and the rapidly developing storylines we continue to follow, including the coronavirus and former President Thomas Minar’s ongoing legal battle in Wisconsin.
So, what specifically does this decision mean for you, our readers? A few points:
- We will not print our issues scheduled for Friday, April 10 and Friday, May 8.
- We will aggressively cover developing stories and those storylines already assigned online and via our website, thefranklinnews.com. We will share regular updates on our social media, @thefranklinnews.com on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and provide weekly roundups via our newsletter starting Friday, April 17.
It is our hope these alternatives will serve as a quality replacement to our print issues. We hope they will ensure our readers can stay up to date, wherever they may be, on this ever-changing challenge.
More importantly, we hope these temporary changes will ensure all members of our staff remain healthy and receive the support they need as we process this new reality, the likes of which many of us have ever seen before. We must preserve our individual wellbeing to ensure we can contribute relevant and detailed information to the community’s response.
We encourage readers to reach out to us with questions about the changes listed above, or about any details we may have overlooked.
We thank you all for your readership and support. As always, informing the college community is at the heart of what we do, and we will persist in this mission even in this most unusual period.