December 16, 2020

It’s been a hell of a year to be a student journalist.

We’ve made it to the last newsletter issue of 2020, and it’s a testament to the work you all have done. When I asked for the best work you’d done this year, I was overwhelmed in the best way. (I could only choose a selection of your submissions to include here, but here’s a link to the full list on Medium. )

These dozens of pieces showcase the breadth and depth of student journalism, from breaking news to long-form features to multimedia projects. Across the country, you’ve covered topics like the coronavirus pandemic, racial justice movements and a contentious election with remarkable poise and sensitivity.

The Lead will be taking a break for a few weeks, but the newsletter will be back in your inboxes on Jan. 6. Be well and take time for yourself this holiday season.

Without further ado, here’s a roundup of the work you — The Lead’s audience — shared with me from 2020. Take time to absorb these pieces and be proud of all you’ve done this year.


Online education at Brown, past and future — Brown Daily Herald (Brown University)

Immigrant detention during COVID-19: “Total disregard for people inside” — Ms. Magazine (Smith College)

Bloom Yoga integrates inclusivity, progressivism into yoga to build community — North Texas Daily (University of North Texas)

Uncensored: Being young and Black in America — Journey magazine (Florida A&M University)

“This past summer was emotionally draining for Black journalists so being able to use our platform to report on Black issues during that moment in time felt so necessary.” — Aiyana Ishmael

“It feels like a void”: Grief through the eyes of one UMD student in the age of COVID-19 — The Diamondback (University of Maryland)

Birds of a Feather: Sanchez brothers bond through falconry — The Augustana Mirror (Augustana University)

From within the Vatican walls: Brown professor unveils insights into the history of the pope during the Holocaust — The Brown Daily Herald (Brown University)

Election week at the University: High stakes atmosphere can be felt across campus — The Daily Illini (The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign)

Ohio’s gruesome “Tiger King” connection — The Lantern (The Ohio State University)

“Why couldn’t we find a match for her;” UT-Austin student dies from cancer before finding bone marrow match — The Daily Texan (University of Texas at Austin)

Two years after Tubbs Fire, Santa Rosa residents still struggle to recover — The Paper Tiger (Lick-Wilmerding High School)

How it started vs. how it’s going — The Voice (Cuyahoga Community College)

NU’s Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment policy fills gaps left by federal Title IX overhaul — The Huntington News (Northeastern University)

“I received a fair amount of pushback from our university’s PR department while reporting this story, and was able to get quotes from the Title IX office even after my request for an interview was denied by media relations; it is a piece I’m very proud of both because and in spite of the obstacles I faced while reporting.” — Maya Homan

The new normal for international students: studying across time zones — The New School Free Press (The New School)

Tiana Day strives for a more equitable future — The Wildcat Tribune (Dougherty Valley High School)

This should never have happened to you — Washington Square News (New York University)

Breaking news

Rallies in light of George Floyd’s death incite vandalism, city-wide curfew — The Nevada Sagebrush (University of Nevada, Reno)

Spokane health officer terminated after a tumultuous week — The Whitworthian (Whitworth University)

Five shelter residents have tested positive for COVID-19, DHS says — Street Sense Media (George Washington University)

“I’m very proud of this story because we were the first outlet to report on the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Washington, D.C.’s homeless shelters, at a time when the pandemic was rapidly spreading throughout the city and there was considerable uncertainty about how the city would protect its most vulnerable residents from contracting the virus.” — Avi Bajpai

‘The shortest notice possible’: For first-generation, low-income Students, rapid move-out from Harvard brings unexpected challenges — Harvard Crimson (Harvard University)

Sources: Gators football team has 19 positive COVID-19 cases — Independent Florida Alligator (University of Florida)


Inside the Somerville facility that’s decontaminated 100,000 masks — WTBU (Boston University)

Growth from quarantine: Students reflect on what they’ve learned from the COVID-19 pandemic — The La Salle Falconer (La Salle Catholic College Preparatory)

How does UMass’ COVID-19 response compare to other colleges in Mass.? Data analysis from schools across the state — Massachusetts Daily Collegian (UMass Amherst)

“No news outlet in the state had provided a comprehensive data analysis on COVID-19 data at colleges in Massachusetts, so I thought it would be an informative way to understand what has worked (and not worked) for colleges over the fall semester.” — Matt Berg

2020 presidential election coverage — The Smoke Signal (Mission San Jose High School)

Challenging the model minority myth: Asian-American students divided over affirmative action — CalMatters/KQED (University of California, Davis)

Mapping U.S. colleges’ fall 2020 plans — The Daily Pennsylvanian (University of Pennsylvania)

Investigative + in-depth

‘So much that went wrong’: First student diagnosed with COVID-19 describes broken belongings, little University support — The Pitt News (University of Pittsburgh)

Navajo school, students fight to overcome amid COVID-19 — Cronkite News/Associated Press (Arizona State University)

Security cameras help deter fires at Encinal — Horizon (Encinal High School)

Climate Change 2020: What could it mean for Nebraska? — Climate Change Nebraska  (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

“A group of UNL students, mostly non-journalism majors, dove into the impact climate change will have on Nebraska through a yearlong reporting class.” — Jennifer Sheppard

‘A miserable life’: Campus service employees allege widespread mistreatment, abuse — The Emory Wheel (Emory University)

The old boys’ network: Racism, sexism and alleged favoritism in Harvard’s police department — Harvard Crimson (Harvard University)

Potential corruption in coronavirus-related public tenders in Georgia — Bellingcat (Tbilisi State University)

The Road to Ohio State: For students from underrepresented backgrounds, getting to college isn’t the first barrier they’ve overcome — The Lantern (The Ohio State University)

Rise in cost of attendance evokes renewed concern among students — The Bates Student (Bates College)

Klan connection prompts community conversation — The Clipper (Seaman High School)

‘Isolated and anxious’: University of Iowa dental students react to an email thread and remarks made within their college — The Daily Iowan (University of Iowa)

Records from before reopening show experts warned UNC of COVID-19 outbreaks — The Daily Tar Heel (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

University to lose up to $116 million to coronavirus expenses, raising questions about AU’s future — The Eagle (American University)

“We spent several months looking at tax filings and talking to sources to understand what the financial impacts of the coronavirus really meant for our university. At a private school, you can’t FOIA for information, making it all the more difficult to get answers.” — Nina Heller

Cal Lutheran by the decade — The Echo (California Lutheran University)

Budget woes, layoffs shake EvCC community — The Clipper (Everett Community College)

‘A sour life lesson’: Pell recipients disqualified from receiving summer scholarships — The Envoy (CUNY Hunter College)

After two long years, Riley Blair finds her voice — The Ferris State Torch (Ferris State University)

WSU fraternity expresses concerns about injustice on campus — The Wright State Guardian (Wright State University)

‘Destroyed my career’: Faculty report unchecked sexual harassment in School of Medicine — The Stanford Daily (Stanford University)


UCLA quarterback walks the line between YouTube monetization and NCAA regulations — Daily Bruin (University of California, Los Angeles)

Virginia Athletics community reacts to sports shutdown amid coronavirus outbreak — The Cavalier Daily (University of Virginia)

Painted nails and PATs: Schupp’s path to becoming Battle’s kicker — Columbia Missourian (University of Missouri)

“I’m submitting this piece because as a woman in sports it’s important to me to elevate the stories of other women in sports.” — Emily Leiker

Losing the Mamba, LA’s most complex and prolific hero — The Occidental  (Occidental College)

From ball fields to the medical field: Former Northwestern athletes fight on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic — The Daily Northwestern (Northwestern University)

SU increased inclusion for LGBTQ players. But there’s still work to do. — The Daily Orange (Syracuse University)


Election 2020 — The Wright State Guardian (Wright State University)

Website design — NU Asian Magazine (Northwestern University)

COVID-19 and primary election issue — The State News (Michigan State University)

“The morning of March 11, Michigan State announced it would suspend in-person learning for the rest of the semester due to COVID-19. This was also the day the staff would send the weekly paper to print. With all hands on deck, we scrapped much of what we had planned for the issue to focus on this huge breaking news.” — Madison

Editorial + opinion

Give teachers a choice in classroom format — The Corsair (Pensacola State College)

Look me in the eye — The Daily Californian (University of California, Berkeley)

To honor Audre Lorde’s vision for Hunter College, we must rename Hunter West — The Envoy (CUNY Hunter College)

F.O.M.O is the spark. Covid-19 is the fire — The Signal (The College of New Jersey)

College district should do better in addressing the inequities of part time workers — The Skyline View (Skyline College)

The Daily Nebraskan is not diverse; here’s how we’re fixing it — The Daily Nebraskan (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

“I’m really proud of the D+I work we’ve been doing in our newsroom, and it is the start of a long-lasting effort to bring diversity to Nebraska’s media landscape.” — Drake Keeler

Opportunities and trainings

💌 Last week’s newsletter: Consider “going dark” for a week this winter break

📣 I want to hear from you. What would you like to see in the newsletter? Have a cool project to share? Email

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Taylor Blatchford is a journalist at The Seattle Times who independently writes The Lead, a newsletter for student journalists. She can be reached at…
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