Student Media: Surviving COVID-19

The recent disruption has brought with it many changes. Keighley Bradford explores how student media is coping and adapting to this change.

The future of Australian journalism is uncertain following the ACM’s closure of selected newspapers and media outlets such as BuzzFedd Australia and 10 Daily shutting down operations. Like most news outlets, student media has also been struggling during the COVID-19 crisis, however, many of us have been able to adapt and survive during these trying times, thanks to dedicated individuals working at these university publications.

At Yak Media, gaining our independence from UON and adjusting to becoming a student media publication operating as a club on campus had led to many structural changes. As part of this change, prior to the outbreak Yak was already transitioning its focus onto digital distribution and online content due to funding. When COVID restrictions came into place, our team began working from home, attending weekly team meetings via Zoom, and becoming familiar with a new workplace communication system known as Slack. Overall, we’ve been very fortune to still be able to produce articles and promotional content regularly for UON students to engage with during these unprecedented times – but not all student media publications have had such a smooth process in adapting to the effects of COVID.

“It is a rough time for student media, and frankly all creatives, as much as people love to consume the content people are not willing to help support creatives in their endeavours, hopefully this will change as we come out of lockdown.” – Tyler Bridges, Media Officer at The Monthly OPUS

For many student media publications, such as Grapeshot (Macquarie University), WORDLY (Deakin University), and Vertigo (University of Technology, Sydney), publishing online via Issuu is not new process to their operations, though it certainly has become a more prominent method of distribution during COVID-19. For some, it has become the only option available for distributing student magazines. Empire Times (Flinders University) announced on May 15 that “due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the refunding of the SSAF (Student Services and Amenities Fees) which funds Empire Times” they have had to halt the psychical printing of their mag.

Farrago Magazine (University of Melbourne) appears to be one of the luckier student media publications right now. In addition to distributing through Issuu, they have still been able to produce print magazines during the pandemic, even organising a mailing list to ship physical copies to their dedicated readers who prefer print over digital. Also, they hosted a virtual launch event earlier this month for their latest issue, encouraging their readers and student associates to join them for (BYO) foods and drinks, live art, readings, and a preview of the magazine as it was officially released. Plus, Farrago Magazine even teamed up with the UMSU Media Department to run Creative with COVID’, a drawing, writing, and photography competition to inspire Melbourne University students to create in isolation.

Unable to publish a physical magazine due to campus restrictions, our friends at The Monthly OPUS (NUSA, University of Newcastle) have had to adapt their operations, seeking new ways to embrace online opportunities. Releasing a digital edition of their magazine, instead of their traditional print mag, The Monthly OPUS has also focused on building a stronger online presence, introducing video interview content and collaborations with students at international universities.

“A challenge [OPUS] has been getting people to contribute at first, the last magazine was an absolute struggle due to a lack in content, but I am hopeful for the next one as people are wanting to write about the things that have learnt and experience’s had during this time.” – Tyler Bridges, Media Officer at The Monthly OPUS

To date it appears as though student media is surviving the COVID pandemic. However, unlike most media outlets, to continue running and in order to thrive student publications rely heavily on student contributions, and the generosity and dedication of student volunteers.

So how can you help? Show your support to your fellow student media publication by subscribing to their website and/or Issuu account. Follow them on social media, and be sure to engage and share their content.

Feature Image: Daisy Peachman, Yak Media Designer

Want to read some old issues of Yak Magazine? You can now find us on Issuu!


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