FROM THE EDITOR: Living and reporting in a remarkable time

AJC visual journalist Hyosub Shin’s son, Jay, is examined recently after falling ill with flu-like symptoms. Shin has been self-quarantining since then and misses covering news of the ongoing pandemic. (Photo: Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
AJC visual journalist Hyosub Shin’s son, Jay, is examined recently after falling ill with flu-like symptoms. Shin has been self-quarantining since then and misses covering news of the ongoing pandemic. (Photo: Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

This past week-and-a-half has been emotional for Atlanta Journal-Constitution visual journalist Hyosub Shin, who has captured some of the memorable images of our community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Born and raised in South Korea, Shin was inspired by the work of National Geographic photographers to come to the United States and study photography. After acquiring degrees from Rochester Institute of Technology and Ohio University, he joined the AJC photo staff in 2007. He became an American citizen in 2017.

He’d been hard at work for weeks on the story, when he came home from work and his wife told him his son, Jay, was sick.

“He had a high fever, feeling weak and muscle pain,” he said. “My wife and I did not worry too much because Jay was only 16 and strong. But I was a little nervous because I was not even sure if we could visit a doctor’s office the next day.”

That night, they consulted with a doctor by phone. Jay saw the family’s doctor the next day.

His flu test turned out to be negative, but the fever remained.

“It made me really nervous,” Shin said. “Since the doctor didn’t give Jay a coronavirus test, we still do not know for sure why he was so sick and lost 10 pounds, but, thankfully, Jay is just fine now.”

AJC photographer Hyosub Shin has covered scenes from the coronavirus pandemic in metro Atlanta and Georgia. In this March 18 photo, Stephen Tucker wears protective gear as he cleans out an ambulance at AmeriPro EMS in Riverdale. (Photo: Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
AJC photographer Hyosub Shin has covered scenes from the coronavirus pandemic in metro Atlanta and Georgia. In this March 18 photo, Stephen Tucker wears protective gear as he cleans out an ambulance at AmeriPro EMS in Riverdale. (Photo: Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Shin has been self-quarantined since.

"I feel bad; I miss visually documenting this important and historic time," he said. "My favorite thing to do each day is opening the AJC ePaper. I am sure there are many people who are doing the same thing and appreciate what we are doing. I am personally using this time taking care of my family."

» CONNECT: Check out the AJC ePaper

The AJC newsroom has been working remotely, surviving by conference and video calls and finding new ways to report the news for more than a month now.

I wanted to share the stories and thoughts of some of our journalists with you. We are reminded each day that many people in metro Atlanta face difficult, and in some cases, tragic, circumstances.

We hope our work telling these stories adds to your understanding of what’s really going on in this pandemic.

Explore» Complete coverage of coronavirus in metro Atlanta and Georgia

Carrie Teegardin, who is one of our lead reporters on health care coverage, has two teens at home.

“For my family and millions of others, this week was supposed to be spring break,” she said this week.

Among other plans, the family was going to the beach. Not now. And on her beat, the news has been nonstop.

"On the front lines of the news, the hours have been long and exhausting," she said. "We know the players well, and they know us. They know if they don't answer the question today, we'll ask it tomorrow. And every time I get really tired and fearful about what's to come, I'm thankful my long days are playing out at the kitchen table instead of inside of an emergency room that's perilously close to running out of supplies."

Our work doesn’t have the life-and-death implications of an emergency room or intensive care unit. Instead our job is to reflect those demands on health care’s front line.

And as Teegardin noted, to ask the questions of public officials and others who make important decisions about public health.

» STAY UPDATED: Sign up for our coronavirus newsletter

Eric Stirgus covers higher education for the AJC. The pandemic has forced big decisions from state officials.

“There were so many developments, and so much uncertainty among local college officials,” he said. “For example, the University System of Georgia told me some decisions, such as whether they were having commencement, were being made by the individual schools and asked me to contact them directly.”

“Some schools, though, were still seeking approval from the University System before announcing their decisions,” he said. “In some cases, it would take an hour or two before getting confirmation of postponements that eventually were mandated by the system. I have to be fast, but careful,” he added of his efforts at accuracy.

Arlinda Broady, who reports on education for the AJC, has changed how she does her work.

“I’ve been keeping contact with sources and meeting new ones,” she said. “It’s been a challenge, but also a rush when I come across something different. I have faith that we’ll all come out of this better people.”

Within this crisis, there are the optimistic and inspiring stories. Alexis Stevens worked on the front-page stories that we published on Monday under the headline “They survived.”

The story recounted the experience of metro Atlantans who overcame the coronavirus.

“I was very grateful for a chance to tell a different side of this story, beyond the numbers of people dying and being diagnosed,” she said.

It wasn’t an easy story to tell. Some of the people she interviewed remained weak. They coughed during the interviews. But they wanted to share their stories, to emphasize how serious this crisis is. And to give hope to others.

“This story proves that you can fight it,” she said of her work. “I hope readers will come away with an even better understanding of the importance of staying home and trying to avoid being in a similar situation as these folks.”

Our journalists continue to work from home, conduct interviews by phone and follow the guidelines set out by authorities. Our visual journalists are careful at scenes to remain at safe distances.

We will continue to bring you this story. As Teegardin put it: “The work is important and has to be done.”

Kevin Riley is the editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.