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The challenges only increase

The Lakeville Journal Company Editorial

There are so many struggling with the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, with few well-defined paths to good outcomes right now. The time is unique, but it gives us some feeling of control and comfort, it seems, to compare it to other times and look for historic ways of coping that have worked before and might work now. One comparison, that with the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, brings a poignant parallel: that some of our best people are the ones responding to the crisis on the front lines and are the ones who are in great danger of paying a high price for their dedication.

There are widely reported stories of medical professionals without access to enough personal protective equipment, and who are working long shifts to fill in for responders who are already ill at some of the hot spots of the virus in New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut. So far, the Northwest Corner has not been as severely affected as more urban areas to our south and east, but that can change around us as we watch and wait, handwashing, sheltering in place and pulling on latex gloves and some of us, masks, when we need to go out for provisions. In the meantime, our thoughts and thanks are with those medical, supermarket, convenience store, trucking, law enforcement, home delivery and take out restaurant workers and all the others who put themselves on the line to help others.

The specific challenges for local community journalism

The Lakeville Journal Company has been working remotely since March 13 in our editorial and production departments, but our finance and delivery workers have been doing their jobs using our Falls Village building and delivery space as home base. As our printer has delivered newspapers to us, our drivers have been waiting to load them up and take them to the post offices (for subscriptions) and dealers (for single copy sales) throughout the Tri-state region. And our finance department has been going to the post offices to pay for the delivery of the papers, and to pick up and drop off mail, then do deposits to take to the bank. Their willingness to keep at it is greatly appreciated, even as they continue to do their best to physically distance from others while they do their jobs.

In the process of changing over to remote working, some of our staff has been left without much, if anything, to do. The Lakeville Journal continues to pay them as we all try to figure out if the stimulus legislation coming out of  Washington, D.C., will offer any support for small businesses like ours.

Given a deep and sudden dip in advertising, a key revenue source for our publications, The Lakeville Journal and Millerton News will need to make even more changes during this time of crisis to make it through, like so many other small businesses. We don’t want to fill in with our membership contributions to the detriment of being viable the rest of the year (depending on how long this pandemic affects our region). Our freelance reporters have accepted a reduced pay scale, and some have even offered to forgo payment for this difficult time. None of our columnists nor our cartoonists take payment.  For all that we are so grateful.

Next week, for the issues of April 9, we will cut back our print run to accommodate only subscriptions and a few key single-copy sale outlets in each of our towns, so there are fewer places for our drivers to go to drop off and pick up papers as time goes on. It may even come to where we need to go all online to sustain our ability to continue to publish and maintain the ability to inform our readers long term. We also want to keep our staff, and people they come into contact with, safe and well during this crisis.

Please understand the need for us to do that, and if you haven’t yet, start to keep track of the local news we will continue to provide on our website, www.tricornernews.com, and Facebook and Instagram. We will get through this, if we can figure out how to be flexible and strategic at every step of the changing challenges presented by COVID-19.

Editor’s note: The Lakeville Journal is providing content related to the coronavirus outbreak for free as a public service to our readers. Please support local journalism by subscribing to The Lakeville Journal, The Millerton News, or TriCornerNews.com or by becoming a contributor to our membership model. Click here for more information.

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