Friday, March 20, 2020

Rural newspapers need to step up in national emergency

A special message to readers of The Rural Blog, especially newspapers:

We are hearing from public-health experts who are concerned about the lack of caution—social distancing and other measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus—in rural America. We've reported on the possible reasons for that, but what's important right now is to get past the politics and finger-pointing and make rural Americans realize that they are part of the greatest domestic emergency since the Civil War, and that they need to behave socially as if EVERYONE HAS THE VIRUS.

Sample copy edition
The means of giving those warnings are up to individual news outlets, but every newspaper has a great tool to reach everyone in its community: a sample-copy edition, as was done by The Cynthiana Democrat, the weekly in the first Kentucky county to identify a case of covid-19. A sad fact of newspaper circulation these days is that it doesn't reach most people in most counties. Sample copying does that, and we can help you can find ways to have others pay the extra printing and postal costs.

Beyond newspapers and sample copying, please remember that this is a LOCAL story for every news outlet in the world. Your local government and public-health officials should have received plenty of information that they can share with you and your audience. In some cases, local officials may not understand the gravity of this situation, and you could play a role in reminding them of it.

We stand ready to help you help your community in this national emergency.

Al Cross, Director
Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues

No comments: