COVID-19 has uprooted lives and shifted the way we engage, work and navigate our days. As a student-run newspaper focused on publishing bi-weekly print editions, there was a lot of uncertainty that came as the University of Cape Town (UCT) announced its campus shutdown. However, the paper has adapted in order to continue providing a platform for conversation, creativity and collaboration.
The main shift has been a focus on digital publishing platforms and driving traffic to the VARSITY website. In addition to sharing its editions on Issuu, VARSITY has partnered with Magzter – a cross-platform, self-service, global digital magazine newsstand – and the newspaper is now available alongside well-known titles such as the Mail & Guardian and City Press. Students can sign up to Magzter to access the newspaper and other freely listed publications.
New ways of work
The paper’s editorial staff has also had to find alternative ways to work and stay connected as the team is dispersed throughout the country. Newsroom, subbing and design have taken on new forms as the team now heavily relies on Zoom, Google Drive and WhatsApp. Despite grappling with the pressures of online learning, the home environment and lockdown restrictions, members of the VARSITY collective continue to dedicate themselves to the work that keeps the paper running.
“Members of the VARSITY collective continue to dedicate themselves to the work that keeps the paper running.”
The consistent contributions of writers on VARSITY’s mailing list has also ensured that it continues to publish compelling editions. Those interested in joining the mailing lists and writing for VARSITY can direct message the team through its social media platforms or access article briefs on the Vula tab through the “quick links” section on the homepage.
Creative plans in the works
A “Creative Contributions” section has also recently been added to the paper, where poems, photography and artworks sent in by students are published. Any contributions can be sent via email. In addition, VARSITY hosted a week-long journaling challenge and launched a bi-weekly book club that students can engage with on social media platforms.
VARSITY is currently planning its annual media conference, which will take place digitally due to the lockdown. Shifts in the academic calendar have also allowed the editorial teams to add more editions to the publication schedule.
In the words of VARSITY’s copy editor, Brad Brinkley: “It will take more than a global pandemic to keep us quiet.”
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