Stay safe at home and  support good journalism
April 9, 2020

Stay safe at home and support good journalism

As the casualty and death tolls from COVID -19 mount up all around the world, the extent of the damage, both direct and indirect to human life, well-being and indeed our very existence is becoming extremely worrying. Already, economists, social scientists and health professionals are not only calculating the costs, but speculating on the future. There seems to be growing agreement that life as we know it, will never be the same again.

In all of this quite naturally, health and the prevention of death and suffering are of paramount importance. But there are also many spin-off effects, which are equally damaging. It is true that COVID-19 may be more damaging to the aged, ageing and those with particular health challenges, but let us not for a moment, underestimate its deleterious social and economic effects.

One major worry is that of the uncertainty which it causes and the accompanying stress arising from such uncertainty. No one knows how long COVID-19 will last, nor in what shape it will leave not just the global economy, but the world’s peoples themselves. The very fact that extreme measures have had to be taken, the infamous “lockdowns”, poses many serious social problems – depression, tendency towards suicides, frustration, domestic violence and restlessness among the youth. What do we do for instance, if our children are grounded at home for another four to five months?
The threat of unemployment, loss of jobs, closure of businesses and contraction of the economy, all threaten social stability. Worse, the capacity of small states like ours to deal with such a scenario is very limited indeed. Our Recovery and Stimulus measures will last only slightly longer than the colloquial “Miss Janey fire” if the crisis is a prolonged one.

But there are also, wider, but not so obvious consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of which have implications for our democracy. One such is that the media will be affected. At a time when the multiplicity of “news” sources spawns a proliferation of “fake” news and misinformation, it is important to have credible sources of information.
These sources however rely on advertising revenue for their survival. Even before COVID-19, it has become harder and harder for media houses to carry on functioning and a lot of creative effort and sacrifice is required to maintain a presence. With COVID-19 forcing shutdowns, the drying up of business, and very few people on the streets, it means that the appetite for advertisement of struggling businesses will surely be cut, if not wiped out entirely.

So we enter a vicious circle, the more advertisements dry up, the harder it is for media operations to continue. Yet, informed, responsible journalism is needed just as much, or even more, today, than in the past. How are we going to ensure its survival?

The print media is sure to be one big casualty and there are already examples all over the world, pre-COVID-19. That is why many newspapers, including SEARCHLIGHT, have taken steps over the years to strengthen their online presence.

Newspapers’ investment in online technologies is certainly proving invaluable today, in the time of COVID-19. Readers of the traditional print edition of SEARCHLIGHT are assured that should there be a complete lock down, in which case, the printing and selling of print newspapers would be impossible, we should still be able to publish our e-paper versions of SEARCHLIGHT Midweek and SEARCHLIGHT Weekend.

In turn, we ask for the continued support of our loyal readers and advertisers so that while you keep safe at home, we can continue to bring you ‘journalism you can trust’. Play your part in strengthening our democracy by helping to support good journalism.

May we all have a blessed, peaceful and safe Easter.