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Inside the Oswegonian During COVID-19

As the week begins the Oswegonian Editor in Chief Ben Grieco has his bi-weekly meetings with his newspaper staff. Recapping their last issue and discussing the story ideas for the upcoming issue that would be published that week. In the past the student run newspaper for SUNY Oswego has had weekly issues, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic there could only be an edition of the paper every other week. 

“Typically in past years we would have at least ten weekly writers at our in person meetings,” Greico said. “This year it was just staff members so we weren’t able to get to know our staff writers as well. I mean, there’s only so much you can do to get students to hop on another Zoom call.”

Grieco, who has heavily contributed as a sports writer for The Oswegonian, has had to look at the overall aspect of the entire paper a lot this year. Grieco has noticed how many sports writers like himself have become more versatile this year with different sections of the paper that they have had to contribute to. 

Along with Grieco, Sports Editor Brandon Ladd talked about how they would have to be more creative with the stories that they decided to use in the paper. Both Grieco, Ladd, and other members of The Oswegonian staff used this opportunity to focus more on stories of the athletes at SUNY Oswego. Stories where the readers would learn more about the person than the athlete that you saw on field or the ice rink.

“The biggest difference this year was just not having the sports because up until the spring there literally were no athletic events going on for Oswego State,” Ladd said. “So you have to get creative in the way you wanna cover it because you can only do so many season previews or what would have been stories. So at a certain point we really turned to focusing on the athletes. To really get a feel of how their lives have been affected by the pandemic.”

Grieco expressed how much he enjoys telling stories and has been able to share this passion with his staff. While also encouraging them to use this style of writing. Even though he still enjoys covering a live game as a reporter and definitely missed that part of the job this year with no live sports until this current semester

“There’s always the fun in covering a game, but I have always enjoyed telling people’s stories more,” Grieco said. “These games aren’t happening so those stories about what could have or should have been get old pretty quick. I was able to recently call all five men’s hockey seniors and say let’s just talk. Talk about hockey, talk about life, and there were some interesting stories. If anything as a sports writer and for the entire sports staff it has allowed people to grow as feature story writers. Rather than just saying this person scored a hat trick.”

One of the more out of the box stories that Ladd wrote about for the Oswegonian’s sports section this year was a feature about the E-Sports Association at SUNY Oswego. This was a topic that Ladd never thought he would be writing about when he joined the oswegonian, especially since he has little to no knowledge about E-Sports in general. 

“I was going through our sports section and realized we only had two stories for that week’s issue,” Ladd said. “So next thing I knew I wrote an 850 word story about the Oswego E-Sports Association. So it’s just examples like that for where we have had to get creative this year.”

Sports writer Trina Catterson has noticed some difficulties with being able to get interviews with coaches and players in the time frame she has to write her story. On top of this at sporting events where reporters were allowed to attend games they were not allowed to speak to coaches immediately after the game like they were allowed to in the past. Reporters were allowed to Zoom coaches at a later date or attempt to get in touch with an athlete through text message.

“It’s a lot harder to get interview time,” Catterson said. “We’re juggling between the athletes schedule, the coaches schedule, and their practice schedule. Just doing everything on Zoom has been odd just because you can’t really build a personal relationship with them, but we are doing our best to still put out stories and get accurate responses that can make a good story.”

Another difficulty that Ladd has noticed is there have not been any beat writers covering specific teams this year. Without this students have had to be able to expand their sports knowledge and try writing about teams for a sport that they are not very familiar with. 

“You can sense a disconnect between the writers and the team because you’re getting spread out all over the place,” Ladd said. “One writer one week will be writing about baseball. Then the next they will be writing about women’s lacrosse. Then the week after that they are writing about another random sport or doing another feature story. Having beat writers was able to provide more to the paper like columns so I am looking forward to them coming back soon.”

Grieco sees this year’s experience as helping writers become more versatile in a good way. Talking about how some of his sports writers had never touched a news piece or opinion piece. Now some of these writers have contributed to different sections of the paper more than before while still being able to write about sports.

“This year has forced everyone to be a little more versatile,” Grieco said. “This year we had a smaller newspaper in general so we had less sports pages. You can only fit so many stories on two pages. This will definitely help a lot of our writers expand their skill set, which I think will be great for them in the long run.”

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