Our View: Quality journalism and transparency are essential during the pandemic

Our+View%3A+Quality+journalism+and+transparency+are+essential+during+the+pandemic

CW Editorial Board

We’d be lying if we said that we had any idea of what’s currently going on. Throughout the nationwide panic, truth regarding COVID-19 has been scarce. Few seem to know what the situation really is, and nowhere is that more apparent than on our beloved campus. From last-minute alerts to vague and confusing policies, UA students – and staff – have been left out to dry

In times like these, we look to our leaders for answers, and while some have stepped up to the challenge, others have turned their back on the public. It doesn’t seem to be a stretch to assume that even the experts aren’t entirely sure what to do. A pandemic such as this is unprecedented in our modern times and hasn’t been seen on a scale of this magnitude since the early 1900s, but that does not excuse the poor handling of the situation by the University’s administration. Disaster is no stranger to Tuscaloosa, but it’s clear who has learned from our hardships, and who has not.

Mayor Walt Maddox continues to embrace transparency in a time of uncertainty. He spends hours each week answering questions directly from the community – whether that be through Twitter, Facebook, or through a series of virtual town halls. He breaks down the numbers and shows how they could change. And, when he doesn’t have answers, he turns to experts who will. But, while this pandemic could be an opportunity to regain trust among its student body, the University continues to stonewall. Rather than handling the situation in a manner that would minimize the hysteria experienced by the public, the University has waited to make the tough decisions. Not only this, but they have provided only the bare minimum of information necessary to prevent a flock of lawyers from demanding students’ money back. At this current moment, one would be hard-pressed to know just how the pass/fail grading system or the move to online may affect essential items such as scholarships, financial aid and GPAs. This is absolutely inexcusable and adds an undue burden of stress to students who are already worried about their health and the health of their families. 

Throughout all of this, we at The Crimson White have remained firm in our promise to the students of The University of Alabama and the greater Tuscaloosa community. Local reporters shouldn’t have to be the first to report news of an extended spring break, or the end of a semester as one knows it. Student journalists shouldn’t have to comb through legalese to determine whether their peers will get paid for that on-campus job, and we shouldn’t have to beg for access to University leaders. But, we do it because finding the truth and disseminating it to you is our job and our passion.

At The Crimson White, we will keep working hard to report not just one side or two sides, but all sides of one of the biggest stories of our lifetime. Now more than ever, it is important that a sort of golden standard of journalism is maintained. Even before the outbreak, misinformation was easy to come by. We would like to promise each and every one of our readers that there is no place for that at our newspaper. While it would be easy to inflate the hysteria we all feel in order to get more views on our stories, or to regurgitate press releases without taking the time to dig for context, we hope that all news outlets, not just ourselves, will not stoop to such a level. Only through a focus on quality journalism, will the public have the information necessary to combat the virus. 

Even though we are all now confined to our homes and virtual classrooms, it is important that we make the best of the situation. Through little help of the University administration, we as students can continue to expand our mind and further our education. Not only this, but we can also do our civic duty to help quell the spread of the virus. Quarantine is boring and monotonous, but there’s a litany of ways to stay sane and stay informed. We might be stuck inside, but there’s plenty of reading on www.cw.ua.edu to be found. We can assure you that nothing you find on there will lead you astray. And, as our country and state begin to reopen and settle into a new normal, we will continue to cover that process accurately, fairly and with our readers in mind.