As regular readers may have noticed, Route 1 Reporter is making major changes to its newsgathering operations in the face of a global coronavirus pandemic which is now spreading rapidly in Prince George’s County. The goal of these changes is to serve as a reliable source of freely-accessible information for all of Prince George’s County’s communities about this rapidly-evolving and deadly-serious viral outbreak.
The first duty my newsgathering efforts will be to convey and amplify the messages from official government agencies bearing new information about the hyperlocal, county, state and federal impacts of the coronavirus outbreak. The second duty of my newsgathering efforts will be to highlight the complications, controversies, and implications of our governments’ and our communities’ response to the pandemic.
Both parts are needed. Emergency management and government officials in Maryland and beyond are actively using local journalism reports – where available – as critical parts of their feedback loops to develop or modify policies and direct government action. Those reports will sometime lead to uncomfortable questions for government officials about this deadly pandemic. Despite that discomfort, public officials have a moral and ethical duty to quickly and comprehensively respond to questions from local journalists during viral global pandemics.
To accomplish the first duty – convey and amplify – Route 1 Reporter is directing most of its newsgathering efforts toward Route 1 Reporter’s Twitter account. The newest, most-rapidly updated information Route 1 Reporter finds will be posted to Twitter as it is learned. The @Route1Reporter Twitter account will be used to curate a feed of new information – emphasis on new – received from public agencies and reliable sources. I will not blindly re-tweet all new messages about coronavirus from official sources – a great many of those tweets are sharing old or unoriginal information.
Additionally, Route 1 Reporter is expanding the geographic scope of its coverage across all of Prince George’s County. This includes expanding outreach efforts to politicians and officials beyond the Route 1 Corridor this news site has traditionally covered and keeping tabs on the official outlets of the county’s 27 municipalities. So far, these reports have been carried in the first editions of our ongoing Prince George’s County Coronavirus Daily Digest posts. In these posts, Route 1 Reporter will endeavor to provide its readers with a week-daily overview of the pandemic’s impact on Prince George’s County.
Lastly, in service of the convey and amplify goal, Route 1 Reporter will not be putting any articles about the coronavirus pandemic behind the paywall. Route 1 Reporter remains subscriber-supported, however. If you like the journalism, consider supporting Route 1 Reporter on Patreon.
To accomplish my second task – highlighting the complications – I am reaching out to the workers, families, businesses and elected officials dealing with this crisis. To those outside of government or on the receiving end of government policy, I want to learn how these events are upending your lives and your fortunes. To those inside government, I want to learn of the roadblocks and challenges you face in trying to implement these difficult policies.