The temperature from COVID-19 is rising. I’m not talking about someone with the actual disease. The political climate is at a fever pitch.
I receive emails and phone calls from readers and friends who are on opposite ends of the debate. Those who are hunkered down who feel they are at risk, to those who think this is all a conspiracy by those in power to stomp on our constitutional rights.
“Damn it Dennis, print their truth!” The latter demands. Let them know how many people have died from past flus. Show them that the numbers from COVID pale in comparison. While the former tells me that we are partially responsible for the amount of cases in Montrose because we didn’t report it early and often. Which we did.
Of course we didn’t lock down during other flu epidemics. So who knows how the final numbers will compare?
Others say it’s science, trust the science. Some folks are genuinely worried about the outcome if we get back to normal too soon.
Then there’s the media is part of the conspiracy rhetoric. Why? What would be the motivation? More readers or page views I suppose. “Anything to sell more newspapers, Dennis!” Okay, but there’s more revenue in advertising and if businesses are shutdown then as we have seen so far advertising revenue plummets. To the tune of 30 to 40% since the middle of March. Why would we play along with policies that hurt our business?
The truth is we don’t. We report honestly on the stories that have emerged from this unprecedented event in our lifetime.
I’m the publisher of two local newspapers — the Montrose Daily Press and Delta County Independent. Two stories, one in each newspaper has brought some ugly responses.
In Montrose, Josue Perez reported on the outbreak of COVID at Carniceria Sonora. Seven cases were reported at the site. It’s a story that has to be reported. Some went as far as calling it racism or racial profiling. Again, it’s a story no matter the name on the building or the ethnicity of the owner or owners. The story included the lengths the store is going so it can reopen. “What about outbreaks at other grocery stores?” Well, there are grocery stores on the health department’s list but none in Montrose or Delta.
In Delta, the Delta County Independent’s Lisa Young reported on the Republican Party gathering in Austin recently breaking the 10 person max gathering guidelines. Some 30-plus people were there.
Some readers lashed out calling the DCI of all things “snitches.” And this Anderson guy a liberal. “They wouldn’t have written a story about it if it were the Democrats gathering." Again it’s a story, and we would report on it no matter the organization.
We are community newspapers, and we have an obligation to our thousands of readers to report these stories. And just because it doesn’t align with a person’s point of view doesn’t mean it has a liberal or a conservative slant or motivation. Keep your eye on the ball. We’re throwing it waist high down the middle.
To be in our business you have to have thick skin, and we do. As publisher of both newspapers I’m proud of the coverage our editorial teams have provided. It’s been some of our best work. I also appreciate you, the reader, and the conversations our stories generate.
Thank you for reading our newspapers and most of all best of health to you both physically and emotionally.