Opinion: Universe staff thriving, not just surviving

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The Universe editorial staff smiles for a photo during a staff Zoom meeting on May 12. From top left: Director Steve Fidel, photographer Preston Crawley, sports reporter Jackson Payne, editor-in-chief Sydnee Gonzalez, web editor Lisi Merkley, copy editor Erin Goulding, opinion editor Spencer McWilliams, photographer Hannah Miner, lab manager Carrie Moore, reporter Karina Andrew, senior reporter Lauren Lethbridge, reporter Emily Andersen, photographer Addie Blacker, sports editor Josh Carter and reporter Kenzie Holbrook. (Preston Crawley)

I and most of the other Universe staff had plans to continue to work on campus when things began shutting down on campus unless directed to do otherwise. That quickly changed as the virus and government restrictions increased. By the third week in March, I was weighing whether to fly home to Mexico.

The decision ultimately ended up being an easy one given how well our staff had handled the covering the virus initially. Our first coronavirus story was published on March 9, after a COVID-19 case was confirmed in someone who attended the BYU-Gonzaga men’s basketball game. Then from the time BYU suspended classes on March 12 to when it officially moved Winter semester online on March 18, we published 35 articles. I had full faith in my team that we’d be able to continue producing stories remotely — and they have gone above and beyond over the past two months despite the fact that we have staff working everywhere from Utah and Arizona to Virginia and California — and Mexico.

We’ve continued to produce both a weekly print edition as well as daily updates to universe.byu.edu. Working remotely has also forced us to adapt and innovate. We provided daily COVID-19 updates during most of March and April to keep the campus community aware of all the new changes to the BYU campus. We also introduced initiatives like “Outside the outbreak,” a weekly compilation of non-coronavirus news, and “Good news Thursdays,” highlights of positive stories.

I’m proud of our staff and what we’ve been able to accomplish over the past few months, and we will continue to provide in-depth coverage of the stories that are important to the campus community. Thanks for sticking with us.

— Sydnee Gonzalez
Universe Editor in Chief

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