Bit by bit, the novel coronavirus has also been suffocating the press in those parts of the world struck down by its intimidating force.
As much as they struggle to break through with up-to-date news and reliable guidance for this stage, printed media face a real risk of extinction almost everywhere in the world.
Many printed media have, for the moment, suppressed their printed editions due to the impossibility of gathering the staff who usually deal with the news hunt process on the street before preparing the editions, as well as the workshop operators that handle the production and those who distribute the newspapers.
Others have minimized their printing schedule, some have reduced their paging as much as possible consequently to the lack of advertisements, or have lost subscribers.
Without ads and without subscribers, due to the paralysis of ordinary life in societies subjected to total quarantine in order to prevent people from contagion or even death, these newspapers have no way of subsisting.
In this agony, and trying to survive, they’ve resorted to the painful alternative of suppressing a large part of their personnel, cutting wages and costs. That is, giving vacations with minimal compensation to their workers, because these platforms are running out of resources because of this lack of ads and subscriptions.
The most expeditious way to avoid suddenly dying is to publish their printed edition in the digital format, taking advantage of the superlative number of users who seek information in the digital network, but even there nothing is guaranteed, because neither ads nor subscriptions are nearly the same as they used to, which were the best sources of financial oxygenation.
Neither platform, printed or digital, is capable of resisting the gradual suffocation of the coronavirus for a long time.
Only if new formulas by which cities and regions provide some type of subsidies or loans under exceptional conditions, such as those being granted to different public service institutions (journalism being one of them), would newspapers maintain a sustainable source to fulfill its invaluable role of informing and providing knowledge to citizens.
This is the worst and most tragic dilemma the free and independent press has faced in modern history. What shall never die, and can be taken for granted, is the journalism whose mission goes beyond the news, because its nature is to be the vision, hearing and voice of the society, and the guardian of its best and most expensive interests.
That is the only effective antidote against the intense coronavirus that is trying to submerge us today. Let’s fight so we never have to write its epitaph.
– Translated from Spanish by Randy Rodriguez.