Posted on

Earning our ‘essential’ designation

Earning our ‘essential’ designation Earning our ‘essential’ designation

When Gov. Tony Evers announced his “Safer at Home” emergency order yesterday, he once again carved out a limited exemption for members of the media as one of several “essential businesses.” It is both intimidating and galvanizing to be listed alongside such businesses as grocery stores and hospitals, which are doing the front line work of keeping people alive and fed during this crisis.

In my opinion, we in the media need to continually prove that we are worthy of the “essential” designation.

Over the past few days, when I’m typing up a story about the latest meeting I covered or trying to pick out the best picture for the front page, I wonder if what I’m doing is really “essential.” I think the past week has really proven that we are — especially for our local readers.

At a time when people are not allowed to gather together in public or go to work as normal, your weekly newspaper is here to remind you that life is still happening out there. Restaurant owners are trying to make the best of a horrible situation, and nursing home workers are doing everything legally possible to keep their residents active, entertained and comforted. And churches are getting creative — with Facebook live streaming and parking lot services — to provide the spiritual reassurance we all desperately need right now.

Local government is still chugging away as well, albeit with much tighter restrictions than elected officials and members of the public are used to. It’s easy to forget that we still have a spring election on April 7, and municipal workers are doing everything they can to accommodate an influx of absentee voter requests from those who are trying to maintain social distancing while also participating in democracy.

Again, it is up to us in the media to disseminate clear and accurate information about all the rapid changes in daily life that seem to multiply every day. It’s not easy, I can tell you that. Something you write on a Friday may be outdated by Monday, and then change again on Tuesday, depending on what executive order has been issued in Madison.

We’ve done our best here at the Tribune- Phonograph to capture local life as it is at this crazy time in history. As I wrote last week, we encourage all of our readers to continue sending us pictures, news tips, story ideas and letters to the editor, so we can keep filling these pages with relevant and up-to-date information from a local perspective.

We appreciate all of the support we have received so far. We can do a lot with phone calls, emails and social distancing, so don’t be afraid to reach out and let us know what you think is newsworthy during these trying times.