From the Editor:
With the recent surge in reported COVID-19 cases in Polk County, we are often asked will there be a story in the paper or online.
Our stance is no.
As a community news organization, many readers may wonder why we do not chase after news stories that involve positive cases or even deaths – some that reportedly arise in education or health care institutions.
While that may be of interest to readers, we find that that type of news article leads to finger pointing, blame and fear for healthcare workers, those who have family members in healthcare environments and educational facilities.
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.
Stories of triumph, of volunteering, of caring and community. Articles that are researched and of interest to the public, that do not incite fear or add confusion.
When reporting on deaths resulting from an accident, responsible journalism dictates to hold the story until law enforcement confirms the next of kin has been notified. As community members, we feel it is respectful to wait as long as possible before sharing sensitive information.
If one of your loved ones’ life was taken in an accident, would you want to hear it from social media or the paper? Or would you appreciate the additional time given to respect the family members and the life of your dear one?
Just as learning heartbreaking news on social media can affect how a person begins the grieving process, so too can learning details that would be better left in the hands of those who need to know.
To report on an outbreak of a virus at a healthcare facility or school through social media or the news has caused additional stress and fear for many across the country.
If you have a loved one at a place that is reported to be a “hot spot” for COVID 19, what you are left with is more questions about the safety and well being of your loved one.
Before the school or hospital can make a plan to reach out to families with notification and the plan going forward, you are left wondering what is happening, left thinking no one is tending to the issues, and that you and your family do not matter.
We feel that is not the case. Schools and health care facilities have gone above and beyond this year, and we respect the precautions and effort they have taken to keep us safe and informed, in a timely and respectful manner.
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.
We will not disrespect the private or public entities who are working diligently during this time by launching an investigative report. We feel it would violate the healthcare and privacy rights of individuals, add fuel to the fire of community gossip and worry, and undermine the leaders of our community who battle disinformation daily, while putting their time and energy into efforts to keep those in their charge safe. We encourage you to follow local schools and healthcare facilities on social media to be informed. We also encourage you to go to the source and respectfully make inquiries.
We know this has been a challenging year, and our desire is to see our community informed, safe, responsible and respectful.
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.
-Jeri Pearson, Pulse Editor