The pandemic shows why we need local newspapers

Published 4:55 pm Friday, April 3, 2020

You need a local newspaper now more than ever, even when there isn’t a crisis. But when there is, it’s a good reminder that it’s better to be prepared than to be caught off-guard. And those who put in the long hours to keep you informed are risking their careers to bring it to you.

At times like this, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, you need information, and badly. But I’m not just talking about the national numbers and claims. You need to find out where it is locally. The national folks won’t always be able to give you a county-by-county analysis, that includes your county, unless it has an unusually high number of cases like Albany, Georgia. 

The more you can learn, the more you discover whether you need to be tested. How did a resident catch it? You’ll also learn when local establishments are open, when they’re closed, if there are special hours for senior citizens, and what are options for you with safe social distancing implemented. You can also find out about that nearby blood drive and what they need, where you can be a hero and save lives.

But here’s the greatest reason to subscribe to keep the local paper afloat. Many of these newspapers have taken down the paywalls when it comes to COVID-19 stories. That’s right, instead of hoarding the information that’s most valuable to their operations, that could make them the most money, they’re giving it away as a public service. In my book, that represents true heroism, public service, and sacrifice. I don’t care whether you think journalists and editors are noble or not. The facts on this matter speak for themselves. And if you don’t think those who work for newspapers are in some sort of peril, well, it’s been that way for decades. By the time I went to graduate school, there was only one paper in most of these big cities.

Isn’t a subscription the least you can do to say thanks?

I know some of you are mad that you read some conservative column or liberal column, in the paper. Imagine 2021, as the economy recovers, and people get back to work, having survived the virus. Will it be there to cover the next disaster, identifying the true heroes from your neighborhood, highlighting your daughter’s graduation, or you son’s exploits on the field, your sibling’s local business venture, or letting your grandparents tell their story, passing on their wisdom to another generation? 

Believe it or not, it may be up to you.