We are all, together, in the midst of a rapidly evolving and deeply concerning situation.
Day-to-day life is being disrupted in unprecedented ways. Every person, every institution, every business and every organization across our state is struggling with how to respond and anxious over what lies ahead. It is no different for our company and all of the people whose work makes our newspapers possible.
We anticipate, and are planning for, needed changes in our approach as the COVID-19 crisis continues to develop. What will not change is our commitment to serving and informing our communities.
At the Warwick Beacon, a number of the staff has started working from home and reporters accustomed to talking face-to-face to city sources are being urged to text, email and make contact by phone. In view that so much of the community is affected from the shutdown of schools, libraries, nonprofits, entertainment venues and sports events that makeup so much of the Beacon coverage, we are suspending publication of the Tuesday paper for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, we are beefing up our presence on social media and coverage on our website. There is a dedicated tab on our website for the latest updates on COVID-19.
We are striving to provide regular and robust updates across our platforms, from print to social media, and in the days and weeks ahead we will continue to share your stories and shed light where it is needed to better the public interest. After all, as the old saying goes, newspapers are the “first rough draft of history.” This current episode, most surely, will not be lost to posterity, and we aim to do our part to document its unfolding.
More importantly, we are committed to do our part in pushing back against the insidious spread of misinformation, largely via social media. Some of this activity takes the form of rumors regarding local developments, and in those cases we will do our utmost to sort fact from fiction.
Much more dangerous, however, are falsehoods designed to deliberately stoke panic and resentment, or to purposefully steer readers toward incorrect medical guidance. To the best of our ability, we – and the rest of our dedicated peers in the state’s press corps – will identify, expose and discredit these malignant attempts.
Along the way, we will keep you apprised of our standing and any changes circumstances might necessitate us to make. We thank you for your readership, trust and support, and ask that you stay with us during this trying time.
We also wish to take this opportunity to urge all of our readers, and all Rhode Islanders, to heed the increasingly urgent calls from civic leaders and health officials to take the steps necessary to effectively confront this emergency.
There is no blueprint for this situation. There is no magic wand to wave. Nothing approaching normal life and routine appears likely in any foreseeable timeframe. Tragic and disturbing reports from other parts world serve as dark harbingers of what could await our state if we fail to collectively commit to the necessary course of action immediately.
On Sunday, during what has become a daily media briefing, Gov. Gina Raimondo put it succinctly when it comes to the best advice for all of us in this moment: “If you remember nothing else about this press conference, stay home. I know that isn’t easy, but it’s the safe thing to do.”
None of what lies ahead will be easy. Beyond the public health emergency is an economic disaster that is already unfolding. The effects have touched each of us and will continue to do so. Let us remember the most vulnerable among us and do what we can to support and protect them, as we do the same for our loved ones and neighbors.
The Rhode Island Department of Health’s website, health.ri.gov, provides perhaps the single most valuable resource for those seeking the most current guidance on COVID-19. Information is also available by calling the state’s hotline at 222-8022 or emailing email@example.com.
We will get through this enormously difficult time. How long it takes to reach the light at the end of the tunnel, and how brightly it will shine once we arrive, is in our hands.