The COVID-19 outbreak has turned life topsy-turvy, and we at the Observer aren’t exempt.
Thankfully, the governor declared the news media an essential business, so we’re still working to provide you with important information. However, to do our part to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, our office is closed and we’re working from home as much as possible.
If you need us, email or call and leave a message, and we’ll get back to you. Contact information is at the bottom of page 2 in every Observer, and it’s accessible through the “staff directory” link at the bottom of our home page at rrobserver.com.
As for our coverage, you’ve probably noticed differences between the Observer and many of the other metro-area news organizations. That’s because our situation is different than theirs.
The Albuquerque Journal, our big-sister publication, prints daily, and the local TV stations air reports multiple times day. We’re a weekly publication, and are staffed accordingly.
The Journal, has really done hot-dog journalism lately. It has a newsroom staff of a few dozen — many now working remotely — to gather information, write stories, edit stories, take photos, create the design of the newspaper pages and maintain an active online presence.
We have a grand total of three people, with occasional help from interns or freelancers, for all of the above.
We don’t know the exact staffing of local TV stations, but at any one of them, the on-camera personalities alone outnumber the Observer staff.
There’s just no way we can crank out the same volume of reports with a fraction of the people.
Then there’s the rapidly changing nature of the coronavirus situation. The Journal and TV stations print or air frequently enough to report on every change.
If we write an article about specifics of the pandemic on Thursday, it all could have changed by Sunday.
Our position is further complicated by the fact that our deadline is Friday night. When something changes Saturday, it’s too late for us to update the paper.
Add that to the time-consuming nature of page layout. We have limited ability to alter the course of the paper by Friday, when we’re finishing page design, because of the time it takes and the importance of meeting deadline.
We do post things online, but if we focused reporting every development online, we wouldn’t have time to cover other issues for the hard-copy paper.
So, our coverage focuses more on the aspects that don’t change as quickly but are important. These topics include how local businesses are handling restrictions, what local governments are doing, what resources are available and how we can all help.
We also want to highlight the encouraging points of this gloomy situation — the community coming together. It’s important to remember the bright spots to keep up hope and keep moving forward.
In all of that, we’re focusing on the Rio Rancho area because we’re the only ones who do. We do things differently, but we still want to serve our readers well.