When I started my final semester at Pratt I never could have imagined we were about to witness the most deadly pandemic in 100 years. Looking back, I politely discussed journalism theory in the first half of the semester, whereas today I tread water amid a journalism tsunami (More than 33,000 jobs furloughed or lost in the U.S. since March.)
Life is unrecognizable. As students we’ve returned to our respective homes all over the globe. Classes have moved online, we communicate via Zoom calls, and we watch and wait in lockdown. All of a sudden we have found ourselves at a ringside seat or maybe the leading edge of history. In theory one would think this would be the most exciting place for an aspiring journalist to be. In practice things are messy, disorienting, and downright scary at times. They say disasters sharpen the mind, and this experience has validated that for me. I have found myself able to focus in a way I haven’t for years.
For this class I choose to produce a series of radio documentary dispatches I’m calling Covid-19 Impact Portraits. I am interviewing individuals contending with the outbreak in ways that reflect this moment. As of now I have produced a story about an aerialist circus worker. Another story about a local Connecticut farmer who launched a new website to distribute locally produced foods, and help her fellow farmers find customers and meet a public need. And a third about a young travel nurse on the front lines of the epidemic. I am teaching myself how to make the sausage of radio and podcasts,and through this I am seeing the world through the eyes of a journalist and a storyteller for the first time in my life.