The University of South Carolina’s student newspaper, The Daily Gamecock, announced on Tuesday that it would be taking a two-week hiatus from publishing in an effort to prevent staff burnout and prioritize mental health. This decision comes amid a long semester of challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not only is this decision an extremely difficult one, but it highlights the burden placed on student journalists during such unprecedented and chaotic times.
Student journalism is important and necessary. It builds a bridge between students and their communities. It fosters civic engagement. It keeps busy college students informed, and it can provide communication between students and the administration. Student journalists work hard to provide accurate information as soon as possible — on both print and digital platforms — and are constantly subjected to criticism and vitriol.
Being a student journalist is a delicate balance between academics and journalism — and this balance has been further complicated by academic anxiety, a semester without mental health breaks and the additional burdens of COVID-19. Feeling disconnected and working mostly online presents its own challenges, while students themselves are often juggling full-time coursework and jobs outside of the newsroom. Sacrifices have to be made, and sleeping, eating and general self-care are typically the first to go.
“There was a general understanding that we were not well and that there was nothing we could do about it,” The Daily Gamecock wrote. “We are choosing to disrupt that narrative.”