I have appreciated the many news outlets that have been giving me important and useful information about the coronavirus in my community, as well as those that have been informing me about what’s going on nationally and internationally.
Early in this crisis, we heard many people and some politicians saying this was an “emergency” manufactured by the media. Some even said that it was a crisis aimed at President Trump to “impeach” him with negative media reports. Finally, though, most people began realizing that we are in a serious disaster, and we must come together to defeat COVID-19.
Through it all, journalists have been telling us what is happening in our communities, and at the state, national and international levels. They have done this by going into the streets talking to people, bringing you live updates on what government officials are doing and streaming information directly to you from health experts.
They are doing their jobs, even as they cope with the same personal challenges that their communities face. They are among many professionals who work when there is a crisis: Public safety employees, other emergency responders, health care providers, government leaders, utility workers who have to keep the power grid going. I can’t name them all here, but they work while we shelter at home to avoid spreading the virus. We thank them daily for their professionalism.
Journalists give us solid, factual information so we can make good decisions about our activities, and allow us to smartly care for our loved ones.
The New York Times recently published a story on the role that the Seattle Times has played in its community, which is probably the hottest of the coronavirus hotspots in the nation. This passage stood out in my reading of the article about the Seattle Times:
“As the national media began descending on Kirkland, The (Seattle) Times remained focused on telling residents which schools had closed, how they could buy groceries online and how local health care workers were beginning to ration medical supplies. ‘That’s what local papers are meant to do,” (reporter Sydney) Brownstone said. “We’re not built for a lot of other things, but we’re built for this.’”
Keep in mind that the journalists in Seattle have the same risks as community residents. “In the newsroom, tubs of Clorox wipes sit on tables,” says the story by Rachel Abrams. “Editors have started to hold meetings remotely, even for those in the office, who log in from their desks. The executive editor, Michele Matassa Flores, has encouraged the staff to work from home, but many aren’t listening. The tone of her emails has gotten more forceful.
“’IMPORTANT: We expect you to be working remotely,’ a recent subject line said.”
Flores is planning for the time that a Seattle Times staff member comes down with coronavirus, and how the paper will adjust to that reality. That’s the kind of thinking that is always on the minds of editors.
While the Seattle Times has been doing great work in its community, so have other media outlets across the nation. Facts matter during a crisis, and it makes a difference when media outlets in your community are giving them to you in a straightforward and timely way.
The journalists I read daily are serving the San Joaquin Valley very well. That is helpful as we cope with the coronavirus crisis. To the journalists in our region, thanks for all you are doing to help us get through this crisis.