Editor’s Column: Every day counts

If anyone’s thought processes are all linear and nicely organized at this point in pandemic mode, hats off to you. This week’s column may reflect the ping-pong effect going on in my head.

First, thank you to the kind soul who sent us Chamber Bucks. That gives us more opportunity to give back by ordering more takeout! By the time this thing is over we’re going to look like Winnie-the-Pooh trying to get out of his house. Thank you to Ma Famiglia and the Easter Bunny for bringing us lunch last week, too. Also thanks to the generous people who have donated toward the cause of independent, local journalism. We appreciate you!

Keep your fingers crossed for us… some significant grant opportunities have opened up and we’ve applied. This “event” has demonstrated that we must access new ways to get timely, necessary information to our fellow citizens. Those new ways are going to require some new tools, skills, and most importantly, more staff dedicated to doing the kind of journalism our readers deserve.

Which brings up the subject of “the media.” I liked something the president of the National Newspaper Association, who is from Wyoming, said this week: newspapers are not the media, we’re the press. Media, by definition, is any information-sharing outlet or avenue. That meme about how “the media should just disappear” was shared on “the media.” Ironic, isn’t it?

As journalists, we use “the media” as a tool to get news to our audience. We are the press. The same press that’s mentioned in the First Amendment and considered vital to the healthy function of our constitutional republic.

If we don’t have a free press doing its job — disseminating information, telling stories, writing that first draft of history, watchdogging government agencies — we still have information, but it comes in the form of PR — public relations. Public relations people churn out information favorable to the organization that pays them for the purpose of increasing business, or presenting the actions of the group to the public in a favorable light. It’s most obvious in politics, but PR is in every industry. Sometimes it takes the form of advertising, sometimes it’s a press release, nowadays it’s swarming all over social media like hornets on a corpse. It’s not necessarily bad, but it is necessary to understand their motives. PR tells the story they want you to hear. The press tells you the whole story, even when it’s not always comfortable.

As the stay-at-home orders we’ve been under for a month begin to relax next week, we’ll be keeping eyes and ears on the changing guidelines and orders from public health and alerting our readers to those as rapidly as we can. We all need to remember this is not going to be a return to life-as-usual. We all need to adapt, be responsible, safe and considerate of one another, maybe more so than we have been.

Every day that we can stay healthy and avoid infection brings us closer to the day scientists and doctors, who are working round-the-clock around the world, will find an effective treatment and/or a vaccine for this new virus. I was at risk of preterm labor with my second baby and put on six weeks of “modified” bed rest. It was miserable, especially while caring for a toddler. But my midwife explained that every day I kept that baby inside increased his chances of surviving and being healthy. Every day counts. The precautions we take now, whether it’s continuing to work from home if you can, or wearing masks when you go out in public, can give us precious time that may save lives. Maybe our own or that of a family member or close friend.

Be safe out there.

By Niki Turner | niki@ht1885.com