We also felt quite proud reading the government’s statement, which mentioned journalists in the same breath as nurses, teachers and garbage collectors. After all, independent journalism isn’t always appreciated for its contributions. For years now, our sector has dealt with falling advertising revenues and contracting editorial teams. Even though so many things deserve to be looked into.
As an independent university media outlet, it is EM’s duty to provide independent and critical coverage of everything relevant to our institution. We are able – no, in fact, obliged – to hold power to account and inform our readers about the latest developments in and around the university. Which means we will continue to man our posts during this virus outbreak. We have however taken measures to limit the risk of infection, working a lot more from home and keeping as much distance as possible from each other during editorial meetings.
Half a million visitors
The current COVID-19 crisis once again underlines the importance of solid news coverage. Every day, countless students and staff members check our website, which is heavily visited as it is. Over the past week, our report published this weekend on the discovery of an antibody against the virus by scientists from Rotterdam and Utrecht was read half a million times and referenced in numerous Dutch and international media.
A new feature this week is a daily television broadcast that will be produced by Erasmus Magazine in partnership with EUR’s Marketing and Communication department and the Community for Learning and Innovation. In the period ahead, Erasmus TV will be providing updates on a very regular basis, although the technical staff still need to determine how we can keep doing this during a possible total lockdown. We will continue to bring the news of course, but we also want to report on how students and staff members cope in this period of uncertainty with our new – hopefully temporary – reality.
These are proving stressful weeks for many students – particularly international ones. They face a loss of structure and social contacts, as well as income due to side jobs that have been put on hold. Together with the fear of becoming infected with the virus, this can create extra tension. It is important that the government also takes this into account in its relatively generous compensation scheme, as also urged by the Dutch Student Union (LSvB) and FNV Young & United. The current crisis probably won’t be the last of its kind, and universities are filled with bright minds who can help find the solutions of tomorrow.
One ray of hope in these dark times is seeing how within the space of a week, education activities and meetings have almost seamlessly moved to an online environment. Of course, this process has experienced a few hiccups along the way, but overall things are working out. Gone are the crowded motorways and packed halls, and meeting online occasionally proves surprisingly efficient. Of course, we miss meeting up at a coffee shop or restaurant. But for the time being, a walk in the woods or a meeting in the park (keeping our distance from each other) is fine too.
No one can say for sure how long this situation will last. But we don’t think it’s too bold to assume that the world that we live in will be changed for good by this crisis.
And one thing’s for sure: at Erasmus Magazine, the lights will still be on.
Arjan Paans is interim Editor-in-Chief of Erasmus Magazine