The Pandemic Edition: ACJ-Bloomberg students document the devastating disruption caused by COVID-19

Stepping out of your comfort zone in the middle of a pandemic to cover grim tales is not easy.

That didn’t stop the financial journalism students of the Asian College of Journalism from producing a special edition of The Bottomline to highlight the economic and social disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in India.

The 48-page edition, which was released on March 28, featured stories from small towns like Nagina to big cities like Chennai. Working on it gave the students a break from Zoom classes and a chance to venture out of their hostel rooms or homes across India to practise good, old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting.

The endeavour also helped them understand the winners and losers of the pandemic.

While the handicraft workers in Nagina — a small town in Uttar Pradesh — lost their livelihoods and ended up in a debt trap, the warehouse operators of Bhiwandi, Maharashtra gained immensely from the spike in online shopping.

While COVID-19 crippled the ₹1900 crore Indian Hajj and Umrah travel market and hurt the local economies of tourist hotspots such as Udaipur and Kanyakumari, the rising demand for athleisure from those working from home boosted the prospects of Tiruppur’s bamboo-cotton makers.

The cover story focused on how political parties changed their election campaigns in East and South India in the time of the coronavirus. They decided to focus more on social media and less on posters, banners and other traditional means to woo voters.

The edition also included survival stories of everyone from the Manganiyar folk musicians of Rajasthan to the martial arts teachers and mess owners of Tamil Nadu.