Student journalists persist ‘against the odds’ despite pandemic, strained communication

To commemorate Student Press Freedom Day, here’s a glimpse of what we’ve endured during distance learning.


Maribella Ambrosio

Daniel Pearl Magnet High School Student Media staff conducts meetings through Zoom, seeing each other only two to three times a week. Staff writers, magazine editors and Prestige Yearbook editors use their limited time to connect and produce content.

Reporting remotely through Zoom, editing stories, designing pages for the magazine and yearbook throughout a pandemic have been some of the most challenging things our publication staff has gone through since March 13, 2020. It has brought multiple obstacles such as building strong communication among staff members, juggling our classes and assignments with our journalism duties and staying motivated. 

With Student Press Freedom Day taking place today Feb. 26, the significant role student journalists play has never been more essential than it is right now during the pandemic. Aligning with this year’s theme of “Journalism Against the Odds,” student journalists have gone above and beyond in their dedication to sharing important news with their community. From reporting and covering an array of topics such as youth involvement in activism and facing censorship, they continue to inform their peers and community throughout this difficult time. 

Providing localized coverage in an accessible manner is at the forefront of a student journalist’s duty. During the coronavirus pandemic, student journalists have worked from home to bring updates on case counts, local school and district reopening schedules and hear from the students and teachers being directly affected by shutdowns and distance learning. 

Our publication has successfully reported on many important and time-sensitive topics despite the difficulties posed by distance learning. We have been able to consistently report on COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, cover the 2020 Presidential Election and the Black Lives Matter protests last summer. 

We have also prioritized gearing our content toward our student audience. There are many stories to be told within our own student population. Our publication has covered students who are overwhelmed with school work and taking care of younger siblings as well as those who are working during the pandemic. Throughout this pandemic, we have worked to solidify a commitment to our school community.

Our digital media editors have also continued producing video content despite remote learning. They have created content on music teacher Wes Hambright’s album and the importance of voting, all from their homes. 

It has not been easy communicating with everyone on staff since the class only meets about two times a week. In efforts to combat this, we’ve tried strengthening the bond by doing various ice breakers throughout the year.

Although The Pearl Post did not produce a magazine from March through June 2020, we are now producing our third magazine of this school year. We have come back stronger and found ways to adapt to the unideal circumstances of distance learning. Some of the yearbook editors were given laptops to help them finish the yearbook from last year and are currently putting together the 2020-21 yearbook. The website has been constantly updated with new stories throughout distance learning on an array of topics. Staff members from both publications have attended virtual workshops, including the national high school journalism convention in the fall and have received various awards from contests we’ve participated in. 

Despite all of the challenges and dedication that come with being a student journalist, our work is crucial and necessary. They have the opportunity to voice the opinions and thoughts of their fellow peers and teachers. We are able to give a different perspective of the historical time we are living through right now.