Giving thanks for journalists and local news outlets in a difficult year of news reporting

For PR and media relations pros, a season of thanksgiving is a time to reflect on essential partners and colleagues.

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As PR professionals, an inalienable truth of our work is that we cannot be successful without the help of reporters, journalists, bloggers and news media.

We build relationships with media members because we need them. Yes, we rely on journalists for valued coverage, but also for information, guidance and greater insight into what’s going on in our communities.

This year, we needed journalists more than ever before to help us understand COVID-19, its resulting impacts, and how to combat the disease. We needed journalists to shine a light on the social injustices occurring across our country and document how communities were responding. And we needed journalists to report and provide analysis on one of the most intense election years in our country’s history.

Journalists are essential workers for a reason. They have the unenviable task of covering news as it’s happening—whether it is a pandemic, protests, riots or tense political atmospheres. Their job is not to run from a fire, but toward it.

In a year when many of us likely needed a break from unrelenting news reports that were often troubling and discouraging, journalists remained vigilant and watchful. They are seldom allowed to look away, even as the news becomes emotionally wearisome and dispiriting. Look no further than this year’s presidential election, when many journalists worked non-stop from Nov. 3 through Nov. 7, when a decision was called, and then beyond to cover the contended results.

Sadly, the news industry has not been immune to the economic fallout from COVID-19. The Poynter Institute has maintained an exhaustive list of newsroom layoffs, furloughs and closures that are related to the pandemic. The full impacts of COVID-19 are still be felt throughout our country and world.

Nonetheless, for those celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday, this is a time of year for giving thanks. And so, after a difficult year that saw so much news that was painful and challenging to bear, it is an opportune time to give thanks to journalists and news media. Through the demands of their work, they have endured the pandemic and social crises, and forged ahead to report the news and keep our communities informed. Far too often, journalists are community stewards whose work goes unheralded.

Thank you to the journalists who covered COVID-19, when we knew little about the disease, were under quarantine and it was not safe for people to gather.

Thank you to the journalists who continued reporting amid the social unrest and ongoing demonstrations following the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Thank you to the journalists who braved tear gas, rubber bullets and hostile confrontations between protesters and police officers, all in the name of reporting the news.

Thank you to the journalists who never wavered from covering the tense and highly charged rhetoric of the 2020 presidential election. And thank you for continuing to monitor the dialogue on social media, especially in those instances when it became caustic—and wasn’t easy to do so.

Thank you for staying committed, staying vigilant and staying watchful over our communities to inform the public and report news that was honest, credible and true. We needed you more than ever before, and you did not disappoint.

We continue to need journalism that is accurate, fair and thorough. As the Code of Ethics from the Society of Professional Journalists states, “…public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy.”

Please subscribe to your local news outlets. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

We wish you and your loved ones health and safety.

Joe Livarchik is a writer from Seattle. A version of this article first appeared on the Communique PR blog.

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