The Daily Gamecock

Editorial: Why we're going dark

We’re not OK.

For the next week, The Daily Gamecock will not be producing content of any kind. 

At the beginning of the year, we made a promise to prioritize mental health not only in our coverage, but in our newsroom — in ourselves. This decision is a fulfillment of that commitment.

This semester has been taxing for a number of reasons. The days have become a structureless blur of breaking news, online meetings, quarantines and, of course, our usual course loads. We aimed to maintain regular levels of production and modified new staff recruitment and training to continue to grow our organization. With the recent shift to fully online reporting, we’ve had to adapt to new forms of communication and restructure procedure and content expectations.  

There was a general understanding that we were not well and that there was nothing we could do about it. We are choosing to disrupt that narrative. 

From writer to website, each piece of content we produce is touched by about 10 people. Before a story reaches your inbox or feed, it is reviewed by a section editor and fact-checked by a copy editor and a copy desk chief. It is then edited again by management before it is passed to a member of the visual team to attach an appropriate image. Finally, it is published and pushed on social media. While we’ve tried giving individuals breaks as needed, we are so heavily dependent on each other for every story that a single absence could affect nearly our entire newsroom. 

It’s hard to ask for a break knowing that an already overworked colleague would have to pick up any of the tasks that you were unable to fulfill. So, for the most part, we’ve been pushing through. Waiting for it to get better. Failing to take care of ourselves.

We haven’t been sleeping. We’ve forgotten to eat. We’ve been staring at screens for hours on end. Our negligence of our mental health has started to impact our physical health, and it’s also affected our ability to produce the highest-quality content possible. There was a tension in the newsroom, a feeling that everyone was close to their breaking point.

It’s difficult to step away. We are all deeply invested in the work we do at this paper, but we have to allow ourselves to exist outside our identities as editors and producers. While we strongly stand by our commitment to report, fighting burnout and practicing self-care ensures that we will be able to continue to serve this community to the best of our ability.

We hope this decision will set an example for other organizations and students in general: It is OK to not be OK. By refusing to accept our own limitations, we fail to actively participate in the habits we claim to prioritize.

We realize that being able to step away from this role is a privilege in and of itself. Struggles such as mental illness and financial insecurity do not lend themselves to this freedom. While we cannot opt out of all of our stressors, we are reducing the pressure in one facet of our lives so that we can tend to that which we’ve been neglecting. 

We’re not just journalists. We’re reporting on top of our full-time schoolwork and, for many of us, another job that helps us financially support ourselves. This break is meant to support us in all of these other areas of our lives.

We are not going to apologize for going dark. We are each struggling in different ways but are reminding ourselves to fight the guilt and comparison that tell us to invalidate ourselves and each other. Some of us will be sharing our stories about what it’s like to be a student journalist during a worldwide pandemic.

We hope that you also take this time to recenter yourself and prioritize your mental health. Remember the resources available to you on campus.

To stay informed, check out SGTV, The Post and Courier and The State for the timely local news that we will not be covering in the next week. If you still need your TDG fix, our special print edition that came out this week will be on the stands until the end of the year.

This will be the last you’ll hear from us for a while. Next Monday, our partner organizations at Garnet Media Group will be taking over our mass newsletter. We plan a full return to our normal schedule on Monday, Nov. 2.

Until then, take care of yourselves. As always, upon our return, we will continue to report.