I wonder if anyone really knows how steadfast their beliefs and opinions are until they are tested. It might be a faith-based conviction, or an ideal pertaining to relationships. It might even be a political or social judgement.
This past week I faced such a test on my editorial stance on reporting pertaining to the pandemic.
In the Nov. 25, 2020 issue, I said:
“As a community news organization, many readers may wonder why we do not chase after news stories that involve positive COVID cases or even deaths … Our priority is to inform community members with information based in fact, and when possible, respect.
…Because the pandemic is so widely reported on and documented at the state level, with data available to the public on a daily basis, we find our reporting can be of more value to share information that is not widely available.
…If you desire to know the data and statistics surrounding COVID19, we encourage you to follow the Arkansas Department of Health. You can find information at https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus, or listen to daily updates at 104.1 KENA.
…As we continue to navigate through this unorthodox time, know that we remain committed to bringing you information that assists with being an involved and informed community member.”
This past week I’ve personally witnessed what can only be described as absolute heartbreak as loved ones said a painful and extremely sorrowful goodbye to a matriarch who will always be cherished and remembered by those dear ones who are mourning for her.
I watched as expressions of love through tearful phone calls among family were exchanged. I saw a close family inform one another of loss and give support that only family can provide.
They could have chosen to cling to anger as their loved one went to the hospital or as she was sent to ICU. I feel they have a right to be angry with the person who knowingly exposed their loved one to the virus that is wreaking havoc on our world.
But as the stages of grief have begun, I was amazed at how quickly they let go of that anger and shifted to cherishing one another.
No news article could have prepared the family. No COVID19 update in the weekly paper could have improved the situation. No social media post would have lessened the burden.
What did help was the incredible nurse who was critical in the lines of communication as goodbyes and I love yous were said with such emotional intensity that the phrases would go with our loved one throughout eternity.
It was healthcare workers who shined brightly in a family’s dark hour.
Not the media. Not FOX or CNN. Not the Washington Post, Arkansas Democrat Gazette or the Pulse. Not Facebook, Twitter or Parler.
As we continue to encounter circumstances in our life which challenge our opinions and beliefs, I hope that we find our convictions are rooted in respect, courage, and love. I hope that we have the tenacity to alter our ideas when it becomes appropriate to do so.
In the front page story regarding the County’s challenges to 2020, County Judge Brandon Ellison describes how his understanding of information has shifted during the pandemic. To which I applaud him. The ability to acknowledge a change in understanding and express in honesty that information is unknown or misunderstood is a hallmark trait in a leader.
As for my belief that COVID19 updates are not appropriate for a weekly community paper, I maintain my position, even after a heart wrenching week. Please continue to stay informed and act accordingly – based on your opinions and values. I trust that only furthers the kindness, love, and respect that are hallmarks of our community.
Your community partner and Pulse Editor,