This month marks the one year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even in the midst of a pandemic the sun shines in the newspaper business.
A year ago I was either fortunate or unfortunate enough to be rushing through a road trip vacation when states, cities and businesses started shutting down to protect residents from the virus. As I woke up in my last hotel room and got ready to drive back across the Minnesota border from Iowa, the Governor was issuing his first Stay at Home order. I couldn’t have timed things better if I tried.
Even though I was miles away from my office I was still working to sort through the massive amounts of information arriving hourly on how our world was changing. Things are still not back to the way they were just 13 months ago. I can honestly say that I am not sure if they will ever return to what “normal” used to be.
Among the many changes that have come in the last year, some of the most trying have been the way that our country, state, city, and township governments conduct their business. As doors to office buildings, town halls, and businesses closed technology opened windows.
More and more government activities moved to digital, online, and virtual formats. With these transitions came challenges, but for some it offered new opportunities to interact with governments. Citizens have even more opportunities to learn about and follow the activities of their local government.
Throughout all of the changes brought on by COVID-19, specifically those changes involving the business running governments, one thing has and will remain the same. Governments from the White House in Washington, D.C. all the way to your Township Hall work for the citizens of their communities.
In 2005 the News Leaders Association launched Sunshine Week. This year from March 14 to March 20 we join in with newspapers around the country to promote open government. COVID-19 has brought changes to the way meetings are held, but it has not changed the fact that your local paper is attending them.
Every month my calendar is filled with meeting links, my email full of copies of agendas and my “go bag” is packed with spare pens, notebooks and masks. Staying safe and being present at these meetings is always a balancing act. They are always the place I go to check the pulse of the communities that the paper covers, so attendance is important.
If you haven’t attended your local government meeting before I would always encourage you to attend. With the number of ways that meetings are available in these COVID times attendance has never been easier. I would encourage you to grab a snack and call in to the next meeting virtually!
Remember that the sun is always shining with your local paper, even during the storm of COVID-19.
Alanea White is the editor of the Moose Lake Star-Gazette. She can be reached by email at email@example.com