I may be showing my age with this headline, but when I thought about writing my last editorial column for 2020, the first thing that came to mind was the popular song by 90s boy band NSYNC “Bye, Bye, Bye.”
Let’s face it. Many of us have been waiting for this year to end since March when the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted our daily lives. When we sit down to make our New Year’s resolutions this month, they might look a little different compared to what our goals and wishes were like pre-pandemic. For me, I’m hoping to travel again in order to see family members that I haven’t visited in months (including a new baby niece that I have yet to meet). I won’t take giving hugs and seeing smiles for granted anymore. I even miss wasting a Sunday afternoon watching a movie inside an actual theatre.
Even in a new year, there is no guarantee that 2021 won’t face the same hurdles we saw early in 2020. The global pandemic is still an ongoing health issue. The numbers of those affected with the coronavirus will continue to rise in the U.S. and may worsen in the winter season as we spend more time indoors. And sadly, the death toll won’t stop until there is a viable vaccine made available to everyone. There will still be financial challenges as entire industries—including ours—continue to grabble with the loss of revenue brought on by the closure of businesses. Many of us will continue to work remotely from home, while making sure our children are attending their classes online. Even on our own magazine pages, we had to adjust our coverage as many of our EPPY Award winners had to gather via Zoom to celebrate their wins. We still wanted to acknowledge them and see their faces, even if was in a square captured on a computer screen.
But there will be one major difference starting in 2021. A new president will be sworn into office on Jan. 20, 2021 as former Vice President Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. As I write this column, Donald Trump still hasn’t conceded, but the people in this country have spoken loud and clear—Trump will no longer be our commander-in-chief.
For journalists, that doesn’t signal that things will go back to “normal.” Like the pandemic, life after Trump will never be the same again. Dangerous phrases he introduced like “fake news” and describing journalists as “enemies of the people” won’t disappear from people’s vocabulary (in fact, they may only intensify since more than 70 million people still voted for Trump, and his supporters are probably not going anywhere). At this very moment, misinformation and conspiracy theories are still being spread as Trump and his team lie about the election results. In the days after Biden’s win was called, television networks started cutting away and fact-checking in real time whenever Trump or one of his staff members began to lie on air about how the election was rigged or how “illegal” votes were counted. Honestly, we should have been doing that more often during Trump’s presidency, but these are lessons the media is learning.
The last four years have given us some growing pains. Covering an individual like Trump, along with his administration, is something we never saw coming and (hopefully) will never see again. We don’t know yet what the press will face or how they will be treated under a Biden administration, but the harsh reality is that in order to help unite a divided nation, journalists must first seek out and report the truth—and that is something that will never leave.
Nu Yang is editor-in-chief of Editor and Publisher. She has been with the publication since 2011.