I was writing for a business magazine based in New York in 2001. That year, the market crash dashed dot-com dreams and the economy tanked. It was the year Enron, WorldCom and their accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, blew up in spectacular bankruptcies amid fraud investigations. In September, I watched the twin towers fall.
So much was changed by that year. Security, politics, fortunes, lives, laws, skylines, psyches. So many of those changes still influence the present — as will the events of this year, decades from now.
At the time, though, we had a magazine to put out. The day Al Qaeda attacked, we were close to going to press, and we knew nobody wanted to read another opinion piece about whether CEOs should chair their own boards. Content was scrapped and new topics quickly assigned. My editor at the time remarked, “This isn’t editing, this is triage.”
Thankfully, I wasn’t responsible for filling those editorial holes (that time).
I write this by way of introducing our triage edition. We cut features that were ready for layout and assigned new ones. We eliminated the sports section when athletes stopped playing. We updated what news we could with fresh information, but had to leave some facts in a state of suspension (when will community events and lecture series resume in person? who knows). Read charitably, please; there will be typos.
Our first thoughts when Philadelphia locked down was how can we write about an empty campus? But soon there were questions to answer, rapid changes to chronicle and an incredible pandemic response to report. Right away, our community leapt into action, coming up with help, information, diagnostics and equipment. Their stories, starting on page 26, make it easy to believe that ingenuity will prevail.
For the cover, illustrator Victor Juhasz recreated the quiet skyline visible from Drexel Park. Our magazine designer hated this concept quite a bit, but I look forward to that promise of peace, especially now. Anger at police killings boiled over in cities from coast to coast days before this edition went to press. The National Guard has been activated in Pennsylvania and in many other states, and guardsmen are currently using the state-owned Armory on Drexel’s campus as headquarters. Upheaval, again.
The sketch lines on the cover are left intentionally unfinished because that’s where we are in higher education, as a city, and as a country at this moment. We’re slowly figuring things out. But we’ll get there.