“As the (COVID-19) pandemic spreads, it has also given rise to a second pandemic of misinformation, from harmful health advice to wild conspiracy theories. The press provides the antidote: verified, scientific, fact-based news and analysis.”
— UN Secretary-General António Guterres
The United Nations honors World Press Freedom Day every May 3—and on this World Press Freedom Day, many media organizations find themselves in serious trouble, because of the economic chaos brought to us by the pandemic.
I am going to turn things over to A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times, by sharing part of a note he sent to me and a whole bunch of other news publishers on Friday:
“I wanted to reach out to you to say how much we appreciate the important, difficult work you’re doing right now. My colleagues and I stand with you in your commitment to providing information that is critical to the safety, security, and knowledge of our communities. As the coronavirus pandemic presents unprecedented reporting challenges and growing financial pressures, it’s also underscored the value of great journalism.
“We want to share the news … that The New York Times will launch a campaign encouraging readers find a local news organization they trust, and to support it through a subscription or donation.
“Like many of my colleagues at The Times, I spent years working in local news. We know firsthand the essential role original, quality news organizations play in communities across the nation. And we’ve been distressed to watch as the pressure on local news continues to rise through the pandemic, leading to an estimated 36,000 journalists being laid off or furloughed in a matter of months. We hope we can help by raising awareness of the importance of supporting local news organizations.”
You can find the database The New York Times put together of trusted local journalism sources here. I am proud to say that the Independent is one of three Coachella Valley news sources listed.
Over the last seven weeks—since the figurative, uh, “stuff” started hitting the fan—we’ve received a heartening amount of reader support. However, if you have not yet become a Supporter of the Independent, and you are able, I ask you to consider doing so now. We’ve lost 80-plus percent of our advertising revenue as a result of the pandemic, and we need your help to continue doing what we do—quality, Coachella Valley-focused journalism, which we make available for free to everyone, both in pixels and print. Learn how to become a Supporter here.
To all of you who have become Supporters of the Independent … thank you. Because of your support, we have so far been able to avoid cutting staff or content. However, if you are able, I have one more thing to ask of you: Please consider going to The New York Times database, and finding another journalism organization to support as well—like a hometown news source, for example.
As always, thanks to all of you for reading. Now, here are today’s links:
• The big local news: Why in the world does the business community think it understands the virus better than the county health officer—and why are county supervisors, including local rep V. Manuel Perez, considering siding with the business community over that local health officer? This will all come to a head when county supes vote on Tuesday to revoke Dr. Cameron Kaiser’s health orders if they go beyond the state’s orders.
• The New York Times looks at the effort by scientists to answer a key question about COVID-19: “Why Does the Virus Wallop Some Places and Spare Others?”
• Why aren’t California pharmacies being enlisted in the effort to ramp up COVID-19 testing—like pharmacies are in other states? The San Francisco Chronicle attempts to answer this query.
• When the virus hits indigenous tribes, things could get very, very bad. The Guardian looks at an effort being made by a lot of big names to get Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to pay attention to this fact.
• A Hong Kong restaurant group has released its “playbook” on how to reopen. Here are the details.
• USA Today points out the obvious, albeit in an interesting way: We’re all dying to travel (safely) right now.
• This somewhat overwritten column by Frank Bruni from The New York Times focuses on Laurie Garrett, a journalist who predicted that the pandemic would happen. You don’t want to know what she thinks will come next.
• Well, this is one hell of a teaser, from the folks at the PBS NewsHour: “More and more, people don’t care about expert views. That’s according to Tom Nichols, author of ‘The Death of Expertise,’ who says Americans have become insufferable know-it-alls, locked in constant conflict and debate with others over topics they actually know almost nothing about. Nichols shares his humble opinion on how we got here.” What fun!
• Good news: Gilead Sciences—which sure has been doing a lot of lobbying as of late——is releasing 1.5 million vials of remdesivir, for free, for emergency use this week. Perhaps not-so-good news: The federal government will decide where the vials go.
• The Los Angeles Times looks at drugs not named remdesivir that may help battle this damned virus.
• The Wheels Are Coming Off, Chapter 47: Business is booming at a diner in El Dorado, Calif., after the owner decided to violate state law by opening her doors for dine-in customers, because, you know, she has bills to pay.
• The Wheels Are Coming Off, Chapter 48: The mayor of a city in Oklahoma rescinded an order to wear masks because some people got a little pissy.
• Trevor Noah is good people: He’s paying furloughed members of The Daily Show staff out of his own pocket.
• If you haven’t yet heard of the arrival in the U.S. of ASIAN MURDER HORNETS, well, sit down, because we have some bad news.
• Finally, because why not, comes this headline from Esquire: “Behind the Scenes of a Nude Photography Project in Quarantine.”
That’s all we have for today. Wash your hands. Be safe. Be kind. We’ll be back tomorrow with more.