Observing Remotely

On Feb. 27, 2020, The Observer student newspaper produced its last print issue.

When the university announced the shift to pandemic-era remote learning, junior Chris Markham was copyediting a story. He was weeks away from becoming director of print. Suddenly, the title seemed irrelevant.

"I was literally reading through the article and thinking, 'Oh my god, what happens next?'" Markham said.

The Observer's staff scrambled to switch to digital only, even as some first-year reporters quit because, Markham observed, it was "hard to find all that extra time when the world is falling down around you."

The remaining students persevered, producing a weekly online newsletter linked to The Observer website.

But their work changed dramatically.

Editors banned in-person interviews and replaced traditional Wednesday dinners that had fueled long nights of deadline production with bonding sessions by Zoom.

This academic year, the publication added about 20 reportersthe most in recent memory. The observer.case.edu website averages about 1,000 story views a day. And during some weeks, students produce twice as much content as the 12-page print paper had.

Markham's most distinct memory? Covering protests during the September U.S. presidential debate on campus. "That was one of the few things we’ve done in-person since the pandemic," he said, "and it was a great experience to participate in such a historic event for the community."

— Mark Oprea