Editor’s note: Thank you

  • A painted rock on the Northampton Bike Path. PHOTO BY BROOKE HAUSER

Published: 4/21/2020 3:46:27 PM

“What’s ‘journalism’?” my 8-year-old son asked me the other day. “Is it a religion?” I had to laugh. Journalism, to a kid’s ears, does sound a lot like those other -isms. But, no, I told him, it’s not a religion like Buddhism. To practice it, though, you have to have faith.

The more I think about it, the more I want to amend the answer I gave my son, who at the moment is interested in all things Japanese, including the Samurai code of honor known as Bushidō. Its eight virtues: justice, courage, compassion, respect, integrity, honor, loyalty and self-control.

Most journalists I know are guided by these same principles. Many of us got into the field because we believe in amplifying the voices of society’s most vulnerable and holding those in power accountable (justice), though in the interest of objectivity, we must also practice restraint (self-control) and exercise journalistic integrity. We strive to approach our subjects with compassion and respect, and to honor their stories through the careful telling of them.

While the majority of us are now working remotely, a few of our staffers — all of whom are considered “essential workers” as journalists — continue to go out into the world to bear witness to the ways in which COVID-19 is reshaping our cities and towns. That’s courage. And loyalty? As members of the Fourth Estate, we are not supposed to be loyal to any individual or group outside of our own, save for one: the citizens we serve.

That’s you, our readers — and especially in recent days, you have shown us loyalty back.

I just want to say thank you. Thank you for the kind messages of support and the generous donations to our COVID-19 Local News Fund, which helps us continue to report on the pandemic and to share that vital information free of charge with the public. Thank you for buying new subscriptions for yourselves and for your family members and friends. Thank you to the readers who, along with the Downtown Northampton Association, took out a two-page spread in the paper to show their appreciation to the “helpers” in our community.

Finally, I want to bring attention to all the donations that you can’t see. Our freelance columnists were recently informed that they would be on hiatus as a temporary, cost-saving measure. Several of those contributors, having followed our financial struggles over the past few weeks, have since offered to write their columns for free during this time.

There is no back-page ad publicly thanking them for their time and talents, so I want to do that here.

Thank you, as well, to all the readers who are sharing their personal essays with us on the opinion page and through our new “Readers’ voices” series. Thank you for submitting important story tips and for filling out our online survey asking how the novel coronavirus is affecting you — for helping us to report.

A few days ago, I took a walk around the neighborhood and saw a door filled with colorful, heart-shaped signs thanking essential workers: grocery workers, hospital workers, Soldiers’ Home employees, truck drivers, trash collectors, DPW staff, volunteers delivering meals, plumbers, farmers and journalists, to name a bunch.

I’d add one more: supporters of a free press. You are essential, too.

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