The impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have put an end to business as usual in Jackson County.
Simply put, the business of people in Jackson County is, well, people. Gatherings of people, to be specific, at places like restaurants and breweries, at churches, at venues like Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, the Jackson County Public Library, at Western Carolina University’s Ramsey Center and on and on.
In a time of pandemic, gathering together is possibly the most dangerous thing we can do.
Gov. Roy Cooper has shuttered restaurants except for takeout and delivery. The big venues of the area have gone dark.
Workers and employers are feeling the impacts. So is the Sylva Herald.
Advertising has taken a dive as businesses close or curtail operations. The lucrative months for a town that relies on spring and summer tourism to carry it through the dark months aren’t going to provide a buffer this year.
Beyond that, the lifeblood of this paper’s usual content – church announcements, gallery openings, book readings and high school and collegiate sports – has been poisoned by the coronavirus as well.
It’s hard to have a sports section when you don’t have sports. It’s impossible to report on community events when there aren’t any, outside of cyberspace.
But even though the community is hunkered down, it still needs a reliable source of information. We intend to continue to be that source.
But it’s going to look a little different.
We’ve reduced our normal operating hours, basically to Monday-Wednesday. Reporters and editors will work more from home and work in staggered shifts in an effort to protect from possible coronavirus exposure and to trim payroll. We’ve upped our online presence at our web page and Facebook site.
We’ll work to combine as many pages as we can, and may start printing papers of only one section instead of the normal two or three. Again, with spring sports on hold, that’s not a hard call.
This plan should keep us going into summer even if the pandemic situation doesn’t improve. It will allow us to continue to be the trusted source of information in these extraordinary times.
In the meantime, we offer the deepest thanks to our readers for offering news updates and tips and for invaluable help in shooting down the rumors that are spreading like wildfire in this age. We are truly all in this together, and the response from this community – pitching in, helping out, lending a hand to those in need – just reinforces what we’ve all known for a very long time:
This is a place worth fighting for.
We intend to keep swinging.