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Seven Days Writers Reveal What it Took to Report on a Most Unusual, Isolating, Historic Year

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Jan Wright - FILE: LUKE AWTRY
  • File: Luke Awtry
  • Jan Wright

The year started typically enough for Seven Days writers. One reporter gave advice to a Wyoming woman who suspected a cop there had created a fake social media account, because we've apparently become reputed experts on that. Another learned about an Auschwitz survivor and member of the Polish resistance who shared his family name — and a strong resemblance to his father.

You know, the usual stuff.

But then, 2020 brought us COVID-19, and things got, well, very weird.

Our writers, trained to witness and record the sensory details that bring stories to life, faced new obstacles. Yes, Gov. Phil Scott decided that journalists were essential employees, enabling us to continue going places. But how do you describe what's occurring at a nursing home ravaged by COVID-19 when you can't set foot inside? What's the best way to interview an 81-year-old woman who can't speak?

Reporters also had to take the necessary precautions to keep themselves and their families safe. After interacting with too many legislators in the Statehouse, Kevin McCallum quarantined himself for weeks in a Winnebago parked outside his family's home. Possible exposure to the virus sent Dan Bolles to his family's remote camp in New Hampshire for a chilly week of self-isolation. Ironically, he spent his time there managing the stories in our October 14 "De-Stress Signals" issue.

Covering the pandemic has been like running a marathon we didn't train for ... that turned into an Ironman Triathlon. The coronavirus shaped almost everything Seven Days published in 2020. Each issue is a helping of history.

Despite lockdowns, self-quarantines, social distancing, masks and an empty newsroom, our journalists uncovered important stories of which we're rightfully proud. For this year-end issue, Seven Days writers reveal how they did it, what they learned along the way and, in the case of the first account here, what happened afterward.

Find links to all the backstories listed below.