A world without sports

By Tony Garcia, Yousef Nasser, Josh Skinner and Allegra Zamore
Medill Reports

In a matter of hours, the sports world changed. This half-hour documentary recounts those harrowing days leading up to the cancellation of the NCAA Basketball Tournament and how COVID-19 changed the sports landscape as we know it. From Texas to Germany, from collegiate swimmers to a sports psychologist, we set out to tell the stories of those in the sports world affected by the coronavirus.

Photo at top: A World Without Sports.(Leila Nasser)

Fight for justice: Stories from across America

By Jenny Ly
Medill Reports

In this June 1-7 special report, Fight for Justice: Stories from across America, Medill Reports looks at how the death of Minnesota resident George Floyd on Memorial Day is sparking social change across the country.

It’s a new-age of protesting during the COVID-19 era and an image for the history books: protesters donning face masks while marching for a movement.

Floyd’s death under police custody happened amid a global pandemic, where states are gradually opening up and businesses resume operations. With the numerous protests and demonstrations — some violent and peaceful — experts will now closely watch to determine what type of impact this will have on coronavirus cases. See how Americans are responding to historic moments of 2020.

Photo at top: A Florida man holds a sign at a protest while also protecting himself in a face mask in response to the death of Minnesota resident George Floyd. (Samone Blair/MEDILL)

Keeping the spirit: Religious groups adapt to COVID-19 but challenges persist

By Jake Holland
Medill Reports

Instead of preaching to a live crowd, replete with white-haired parishioners and toddlers wobbling up and down the nave, Pastor Ryan Kapple has found himself facing the empty pews, delivering sermons via livestream to no one in particular.

High-definition cameras track and record Kapple’s every move and turn of phrase, transmitting his services via Facebook Live to the 300 or so members who frequent Leawood Presbyterian Church in suburban Kansas City.

Like nearly every institution in American life, places of worship — churches, synagogues, mosques and the like — have been hit hard by the novel coronavirus and subsequent social distancing measures.

No longer are Christians able to physically gather as one, to sway to sweet hymnals and nod their heads when a verse speaks to them. No longer are Jews able to join together at the synagogue for weekly Shabbat dinners, and no longer are Muslims able to lay side by side in the mosque to pray.

But amidst the uncertainty and lack of physical meetings, religious leaders have turned to online platforms to practice their faith with community members. These measures are hardly a substitute for in-person worship, but they allow people of faith to find support from their community and their religion at a time when so much else remains up in the air.

“Gathering is essential to institutions of faith, and gathering is part of the human experience,” Kapple said. “It’s been a challenge, definitely, adjusting to our new normal.”

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Walgreens’ weakness can continue during painful post-COVID recovery, analysts say

By Henry Ren
Medill Reports

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. has traded near a seven-year low since executives said in early April that comparable sales started to decline due to the coronavirus pandemic, reflecting Wall Street’s concerns about the company’s post-shelter-in-place recovery in what is likely a recession.

Walgreen’s comparable sales rose 26% in the first three weeks of March as U.S. consumers stockpiled prescriptions and cleaning products, Chief Financial Officer James Kehoe said during the second-quarter earnings conference call on April 2. However, comparable sales shrank after March 21, when stay-at-home orders were enforced across the U.S.

“We are confident that this is a temporary situation, and we would expect to see some stabilization of sales trends over time,” Kehoe said.

However, some analysts are worried that the weakness of in-store purchases may pose significant challenges to Walgreen’s domestic and international sales over the coming months.

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Creating a TRiiBE of her own

By Grace Asiegbu
Medill Reports

On the ninth floor of the historic Nichols Tower on the West Side of Chicago sits a shared workspace with creaky floors and the smell of old books. Tiffany Walden, 31, walked out of a corner office with a bright smile. Tiffany relayed all the meetings and work she hadn’t completed, but seemed to be relaxed and unfazed.

The TRiiBE is an outlet created by Walden and Morgan Johnson, who is also an Northwestern alumna. Launched in 2017, the site focuses primarily on stories and events that happen in predominantly black neighborhoods in Chicago. The authors of many pieces on the site are either Walden, Johnson, freelancers who are also black. The TRiiBE exists exclusively online and it has sections dedicated to the people (non-journalists who write op-eds), the culture (pieces written by journalists) and the works (art and prose written by creatives). There are also sections for people to peruse upcoming events in the city and (the scene) and retail merchandise (the store). It is updated on a weekly basis with content.

“The writing bug hit me when I was young. Maybe like 8 or 9. I always had a gift for writing and a passion for it. I just didn’t know how to be a writer,” Walden said.

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Fort Myers NAACP Protest Calls for Unity

By Samone Blair
Medill Reports

Roughly 40 Floridians gathered Monday in downtown Fort Myers, Florida, for a protest organized by the NAACP of Lee County demanding justice after the police killing of George Floyd. A broad range of the community took to the stage to explain why they attended the protest.

Photo at top: A protestor encourages his mentee to carry the American flag while leading fellow protestors in a chant. (Samone Blair/MEDILL)

Weekend scenes: Police killing of George Floyd ignites ‘Day of Protest’

By Anika Exum, Hannah Farrow, Briana Garrett, Nicole Girten and Yilin Xie
Medill Reports

Last week’s police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota resulted in widespread outrage and calls for protest nationwide — a protest that turned into days. Here’s what Medill reporters documented over the weekend.

Chicago Public Schools teacher Amreen Khadeer holds a sign that reads “I am an educator who wants to teach oppression from history books.” (Nicole Girten/MEDILL)

Chicago’s Loop on Friday: The first sparks of protest in Chicago

By Nicole Girten

CHICAGO — The omnipresent whirring sound of police helicopters echoed through the canyons in Chicago’s downtown Loop on Friday evening. Protesters marched north on State Street, accompanied by a heavy police presence, until they were blocked by a wall of officers on Ohio Street, preventing them from moving east. 

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ASMR, Explained

By Justin Horowitz
Medill Reports

Autonomous sensory meridian response has taken over select corners of the Internet.

More commonly known as ASMR, the term was coined in 2010 as a way to describe the experience of brain tingles. Brain tingles are a sensation some people experience when exposed to triggers such as hearing whispers, tapping noises and receiving close personal attention.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have studied the physiological effects of ASMR. Their research found ASMR has a relaxing sensation on viewers while also creating a stimulating response. More research needs to be done to understand how ASMR interacts with the human brain on a deeper level.

The ASMR YouTube community has expanded rapidly over the past 10 years. Some ASMR content creators have garnered millions of subscribers and even brand endorsements.

Photo at top: Gibi ASMR creates sound triggers in one of her YouTube videos. (Courtesy of Gibi ASMR)

COVID-19: Stories from across America

By Jenny Ly
Medill Reports

In this May 25-31 special report, COVID-19: Stories from across America, Medill Reports looks at how the global pandemic is affecting Memorial Day and wedding celebrations, campaign voting and youth activities across the country.

Coronavirus has now officially claimed the lives of at least 100,000 Americans. From Indianapolis to Chicago, California to Connecticut, and everywhere in between, see how Americans are responding to the pandemic, as the global race to find a vaccine continues.

Photo at top: Veterans in Old Lyme, Connecticut gather in honor of Memorial Day (Dave Peck/MEDILL)