A paper's purpose in times of need
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Even though the COVID-19 virus hasn't yet made its way to this county, the fear it instills certainly has. Some of that's been beyond our control. Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control are prompting schools, libraries, nursing homes and any number of public entities to close doors, cancel events or otherwise keep the general public at bay. Caution and fear boarder the same road, and it's understandable in some respects that we become panicked in our preparation for this so-called pandemic.
There's been a fair amount a finger pointing at the nebulous media, blaming it for fear mongering and causing the populous to hoard toilet paper. But I will point out that, up until recently, the only mention of this new viral strain in our local paper was in a piece looking at the upcoming spring planting season — a piece I wrote. The quoted sources merely mentioned the virus might impact agricultural markets between the U.S. and China. So, please don't lump your local news in with "the media," which increasingly seems like the information age's answer to the bogeyman.
That said, there’s now an abundance of local info to be had in relation to the virus. Two of our major hospitals have released recommendations. The upcoming Rock the Roof Dance Party has been cancelled as a precaution. Even agricultural training courses have been called off in our region. And, if you somehow hadn't heard, school's been cancelled. That's the sort of information you'll need, and that's the sort of information this paper aims to send your way.
This week, plenty of folks saw the various virus-related cancellations, postponements and other announcements we compiled. That information wasn't aimed at causing a panic. In fact, quite the opposite. It was a realization that the daily ins-and-outs of life were going to be affected in at least some small way for our readers, and that realization was met with the impulse to do what a newspaper can to help the rhythm of life stay as even as possible. Plenty of folks benefitted from knowing school was cancelled, but someone also needed to know their grandparents' care facility was probably keeping visitors out (and just to put a personal spin on this, I literally have no idea when I'll be able to see my own father again because of all this). Someone needed to know their computer group wasn't meeting, and that the nature center is closed. Someone needed to know there could be changes to their court appointment. We at the paper didn't necessarily know who those folks were, but we knew there was information they needed.
So, we gave it to you. All of you.
I'll say it again — not as fuel on the fires of fear, but to simply help you avoid a few curveballs you might not have known were thrown your way. We all still need to go about our daily business, and that's going to be hard if we don't have credible sources of information available to us. That's why the paper is here — in both times of crisis and the lulls in life's lunacy. We're here for you.