Monday, May 4, 2020

There is a time in every election year that I call the doldrums. It’s the time when primaries are over, nominees known, and polls have lost their relevance. Later, after the conventions, the pressure will be on again, with speeches, ads, debates, rallies, and polls targeted at every segment of the population you can imagine. But early summer brings the doldrums, when journalists struggle to find anything newsworthy–hoping for the naming of a vice presidential nominee or a juicy scandals while indulging in endless speculation.

Not this year. Coronavirus has upstaged them all. Even when there isn’t much new to say. Speculation spins endlessly around reopening, testing, vaccines, medical findings, lifestyle changes, and the economic impact.

I surveyed all the stories in two major newspapers that I subscribe to online: The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times. Out of a total of 107 news articles in both papers, 75% of the stories were based on the Coronavirus and 25% were on other topics. The ratio of 3 to 1 was very close between the two papers with 72% of the WSJ articles coronavirus-based and 79% of the LA Times stories centered on the virus.

Most (19) of the 47 Wall Street Journal coronavirus articles focused on economy and personal finance, with the 28 others looking at reopening (domestic and international), changed lifestyles, politics, and medical issues (testing, masks, nursing homes, etc.).

The 33 LA Times coronavirus articles covered the same topics, but with a more even distribution. Only one article, in the WSJ, brought up the question of where the virus came from today. We may see more of those as the political season ramps up.

What do they talk about when they aren’t covering virus-related issues? Again, the WSJ leads with economy/finance articles. Both papers have a smattering of articles on Israel, North Korea, the 2020 election, sports, and non-coronavirus obituaries.

For now, coronavirus is clearly upstaging this year’s election. If it continues to dominate the news, that will not be a good sign. We can only hope that in a few months it will be just another campaign issue.

On the home front: I took Ozzie to doggie day camp this morning. They had closed temporarily because there were so many cancellations, but they are allowed to be open as an essential service. I’m hoping to travel later this year–even a simple road trip would be great–and after 6 weeks at home I want him to stay used to being left once in awhile. I also wanted him to get a good bath today.

I’m happy to report that he ran right in.

Today’s Notable Headlines

“Working at homehad a positive effect on productivity during the pandemic, survey says,” USA Today, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/05/04/coronavirus-pandemic-might-game-changer-working-home/3061862001/

“The U.S. Travel Industry Unveiled Guidelines for Reopening: Here’s what they are,” Miami Herald. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/tourism-cruises/article242486436.html

“Governor Newsom announces California will begin easing coronavirus closures this week,” NPR, https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/05/04/850241273/gov-newsom-announces-california-will-begin-easing-coronavirus-closures-this-week?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=nprblogscoronavirusliveupdates

“For nearly two months Italians rarely left their homes. Now they’re leading Europe’s reopening.” Yahoo News, from NBC News. https://news.yahoo.com/italy-eases-europes-longest-lockdown-122100839.html

Why am I doing this?

The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. It is my intention to journal the events of these days from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary crisis.

You are on History’s Edge.

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