It’s easy to shrug off digs at the media nowadays.
When I started college, my professors told me I would be treated disrespectfully on occasion, especially in the midst of what journalists call “an attack on media.”
During the county commissioners meeting Tuesday, I was met with some slightly unpleasant feelings as people in the room looked to put blame on someone for the chaos surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic: And they put that blame on the media.
It’s so easy to say “the media,” and maybe you mean Fox News, CNN or the Houston news stations that run 24-hour news cycles. But when I hear you put blame on “the media,” all I hear is “Alyssa Faykus.” When you blame “the media” I hear the names of my current coworkers, my former colleagues and friends who are quite frankly, working their butts off to provide information to their readers about a global pandemic that should not be brushed off.
Your local outlets such as The Banner-Press and KWHI are “the media.” We are reporters who sit in meetings every week to keep government officials accountable. We are in the field putting ourselves at risk of contracting COVID-19 just like everyone else at that meeting Tuesday. We are at risk just like your first responders, grocery store workers and food service industry employees.
We are at risk, just like you and your families.
I may not work for emergency medical services (EMS), the police department or the sheriff’s office, but my reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic can save lives. You bet I am going to report on this.
I don’t get worked up over a lot of things I see in the news. COVID-19 is something I feel God has put on my heart to talk frankly about to readers and spread information about.
It is my job to report the news. I’m not writing COVID-19 stories because “the media needs a story to focus on” as the Washington County Texas GOP Facebook page suggested.
When Kevin Deramus, director of EMS, gave updated numbers of negative tests in Washington County on Tuesday, Commissioner Joy Fuchs was quick to look at the media table and say, “Y’all got that media? Because people are saying from the hospital they are hearing that we have some positive cases.”
My answer is, “Yes, I got it.” Also, “the media” is not the one spreading the rumors. I will only report figures that officials give me.
I also got that Washington County has 18 respirators and that our hospitals are not equipped for a massive outbreak of coronavirus. I also got a grim quote from Washington County Health Authority William R. Loesch, M.D. saying that people may have to “go in a corner and die” if people do not take being quarantined seriously.
Is this news scary? Absolutely. It’s not my job to protect your feelings. It’s my job to give the facts straight to our readers, many of whom are still not taking this pandemic seriously.
So when Fuchs asks me to pull numbers that health officials give us from stories, my answer is no. I will not fold because my small government does not want to induce panic from real facts or scenarios that time and time again, health officials say are possible and we are not equipped for.
Commissioner Kirk Hanath said Thursday “our government should not be the say-all and be-all to protect you from a virus.” And while he is right that residents should be smart enough to take their own precautions, our local government is not adhering to them.
The emergency commissioners court meeting had at least 20 people in a small room in the courthouse. Commissioners are not protecting themselves and they are not protecting their residents by passing a proclamation they blatantly will not enforce.
I refuse to listen to my local government insist this is not a big deal. It looks like our county commissioners care more about getting FEMA money from a disaster declaration than holding anyone or any business accountable in Washington County.
I am a hometown girl that ended up back in Brenham, a community I love. I don’t want to see my fellow residents in the hospital. I don’t want to report on one, single death from the coronavirus in Washington County. I need your help.
I need you to quarantine yourselves if your job allows it. Stay at home with your family. Enjoy this bonus time with them. Do your best to stay out of the grocery stores until you really need something. Do not go to the movie theater, your gym or dine-in at a restaurant where there will be larges gatherings of people.
Do not let your teenagers go hang out with their friends in large groups. Limit your child’s or grandchild’s exposure to other kids right now. This is all temporary. The sooner we isolate ourselves, the sooner the spread will stop.
This virus isn’t an attack on our liberty and freedom, it’s an attack on our health.
It is irresponsible and selfish of you not to heed the Center of Disease Control’s precautions for the coronavirus. You may be healthy enough to survive, but you could be in contact with someone who is not.
One more way you can help is by emailing or calling our team about what you want to know in the midst of this unprecedented time in the United States. We are here to serve our readers and will help in any way possible.
———Alyssa Faykus is a reporter at The Banner-Press. She can be reached at email@example.com.