It’s not business as usual. Not in Moab, not across the country and not here at the Sun.
In the course of the last week, our town has been turned upside down as the spread of COVID-19, a coronavirus causing a global pandemic, crept ever closer. Day by day, the seriousness of the situation and its consequences on our lives became ever clearer.
We’re all figuring out what this means for our lives going forward. We wanted to tell you a little about what that means over here at the Sun.
For the first time ever, we delayed our print run for a full 24 hours in order to present this special edition. We worked with local health officials to make sure that not only is this edition full of the community-based stories you’ve come to expect from us but also is as useful as possible in these uncertain times. We hope that you clip the resource guide on our back page and post it on your fridge.
During the last week, it became clear that our community needed quick, thoughtful news much faster than our usual print run. Important information was being announced on an hourly basis; our inboxes were overflowing with emails marked BREAKING and URGENT. Information from the Southeast Utah Public Health Department and Moab Regional Hospital couldn’t wait for our normal print deadline.
We made the decision to start publishing crucial information on our website and Facebook as soon as possible, before even thinking of our weekly edition. Our physical newspaper is the heart of our business, but it’s clear that our readers also need quicker updates. It’s a bit of a change here, but we’re going to continue to bring you breaking and community news through social media in addition to our newspaper.
As news rolled in, we also began hearing from you through our social media and decided to commit to being responsive and getting your questions answered as quickly as possible. We’ve heard questions on when to go to the hospital, questions clarifying the recent orders closing hotels and restaurants, as well as questions about whether some rumors spreading online were true. Elsewhere in the world, social media (and, as much as it pains us to say, shoddy journalism) has been the source of misinformation that clouds important information and advice from medical professionals.
Especially in times like these, we want our readers to know we are a resource you can rely on. We place importance on our solid connections to medical professionals and public health experts who can help process the immense amount of technical information and research on this worldwide crisis into what we need to know in plain English. Rumor and hearsay don’t belong in these pages or on our website: that’s a pledge we make to you.
We’re also working to highlight the stories of folks in our community that have important perspectives on this crisis. Our staff writer, Rachel Fixsen, has worked overtime, talking to community members scrambling to adapt to these unprecedented times. First responders, local businesses, passionate volunteers and suddenly out-of-work seasonal workers are just a few of the stories we’re honored to bring you in coming weeks.
We’ve seen just how strong, thoughtful and resilient our community is. We’ve seen officials go without sleep to ensure our elders are safe. We’ve seen businesses make the extremely tough decision to choose the public good over their financial security. We’ve seen folks tearing up bedsheets in order to sew masks for first responders. We’ve never been more proud.
Still, we’re all grown-ups and there’s no virtue in avoiding the obvious: it’s going to be hard times here in Moab. The news is not all good, and much of it is bad. We’re inspired and encouraged by the strength and acts of selfless service we’re seeing; we also think our readers are mature and intelligent to face some hard facts.
We know our community values independent community journalism and the information we share. As a small business that is dependent on advertising, we will struggle with the economic impact from the coronavirus crisis as much as any other local business. That’s why we’re looking to our community to help support independent journalism in Moab and southeast Utah and sign up for a membership on our website today. Every dollar goes towards supporting our work and the public’s access to information. Members will have access to our e-edition and, plus, we’re working on some cool stickers.
Here at the Sun, we’re making a pledge to you: we’re all in this together. Our paper is not just committed to the community, we’re a part of it. We live here. We work here. We’re not going anywhere.