Launching an online newspaper during a pandemic

Zoe Rabin

A letter from the Editor

When I had dreamed in fall 2019 of one day becoming the editor in chief of The Chronicle, the College of Lake County’s student-run newspaper, the thought of launching an online newspaper during a global pandemic had never crossed my mind. There was no reality in which the publication wasn’t in a physical print copy format left in stacks all across campus. When I was asked to become the editor for the 2020-2021 semester, I thought there was no way the COVID-19 pandemic would last long enough to affect my sophomore year of college. I had envisioned myself on campus attending events and interviewing people in person. I had looked forward to late nights of editing the paper with the staff as CLC Police roamed the campus, looking for stragglers after 10 p.m. I envisioned last-minute coffee runs to the on-campus Starbucks so we could stay awake long enough to finish formatting the paper and add any final touches. Unfortunately, my dreams did not become a reality, and The Chronicle will be released through an online-only format indefinitely. 

Photo depicting Zoe Rabin.

Photo depicting Zoe Rabin.

The process of setting up the website itself was challenging. There were many more moving parts than I expected in terms of planning a successful launch, including marketing, rebranding, and logo redesign. I went through different website styles to find the one that best suited the vision I had and enlisted the help of friends to commission artwork for the logo and to help me navigate the challenges of creating a website on my own for the first time. Still, it was exciting to be creating something new and modern for our publication that would go down in history as CLC’s first-ever student-run online newspaper. 

I struggled a lot to prepare for this launch, not just with the technological logistics but also with planning articles. I had to rewire my brain to create content for an online newspaper in the middle of a global pandemic where everything is over Zoom, and events are minimal. I hadn’t realized how essential networking was when by-chance in-person interactions became a thing of the past. While on-campus, stories can just fall into your lap. It seemed as if there would be an exciting event or a compelling presentation to cover every day, and our staff was highly likely to run into students day-to-day who were either doing something extraordinary or had ties to a great story. In 2019, I used my connections to students and faculty to think of something special to cover for each edition. Now it’s different. There are countless people I interact with daily due to The Chronicle, and it is weird to think that no matter how much of a connection we build over the phone, I might not ever meet them in person. Like everyone else, I had to adjust to the current world, where virtual is the new normal.  

While taking on this role in isolation is not how I had envisioned it, I am grateful for the opportunity, and I look forward to how The Chronicle will grow and evolve during the modern era.