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Thankful for writers and nettles

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Leslie Campbell

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March 26, 2020

CBC REPORTED THAT Atlantic Canada’s largest newspaper chain, SaltWire Network, is temporarily laying off 40 percent of its staff and shutting down its weekly publications due to the loss of advertising revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “The economic ripple effect of COVID-19 hit us faster and more aggressively than we could have ever planned for or anticipated,” Mark Lever, president and CEO of SaltWire Network, said in a news release.

I’ve communicated with all Focus writers now, though we’re still working out individual assignments. They are all so understanding and supportive. We have been so fortunate to work with them all.

Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, Focus will find a sponsor or two who wants to support both local journalism and some of the businesses and organizations that I’d like to help through this site with, for now, free advertising.

When one looks around at models of funding for online local/regional journalism, one finds mostly non-profits which have angel funders or foundation monies, plus donations from readers.

Though we’ve had a website for over a decade, with decent traffic, viewing it as our “main gig” sort of feels like starting over. But Focus does have such a loyal, long-term audience we just have to help them find us.

How to explain things to our readers, particularly our paid subscribers? While their contribution of $20/year is greatly appreciated, it only covers a very small portion of the expenses. It certainly doesn’t cover our journalism expenses. That will have to change if journalism is to survive at Focus and elsewhere. Our writers do not charge even close to a modest hourly rate for their work (and fortunately, most do not rely on Focus for an income).

The cases of COVID-19 now stand at 52 on the Island. Maybe there won’t be a big impact here.

In today’s New York Times, Nicholas Kristof and Stuart Thompson, relying on modelling by University of Toronto epidemiologists, addressed the idea that maybe the cure is worse than the disease (a la Trump and yesterday’s Times Colonist editorial). I liked their response: “First, the fundamental force damaging the economy is not the rulebook on social distancing but rather an out-of-control virus, and the best way to protect the economy is to rein in the pandemic…It may be that the only way to control it sustainably is with an economic pause too long to be politically sustainable. In that case, we may be headed for a year of alternating periods of easing and tightening economic activity, with the pandemic rising whenever we ease and subsiding whenever we tighten.”

 

1411858644_Firsthummingbirdof2020.jpg.44487b1e5c161c54c2b354da57f3c547.jpg

The first Rufous hummingbird showed up today

 

The flowering red currant has just begun to bloom and, right on cue, the first Rufous hummingbird appeared at the feeder today. On our walk today I picked nettles for our dinner. I will add them to some wild rice, onions and garlic. We are running out of fresh produce, but we don’t seem keen to do grocery shopping yet. So the nettle patch is a blessing.

The cats enjoyed the dull, rainy day: they could hang out in their cat “tree” which gets too hot when it’s sunny.

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