Public officials across the country have begun ordering the shut-down of “non-essential” businesses for periods of time. The goal of these orders is to appropriately react to our COVID-19 health crisis. However, these orders can also lead to some confusion about their application to news publishing operations.
It should be readily apparent that local news publishers are carrying out an absolutely essential function in conveying accurate, reliable and critical information to the public at a time of great need. Many consumers are using our digital products, which can often be created and accessed remotely. However, there are still a large number of readers who rely exclusively on the production of our print products. Therefore, when issuing these orders, we would urge public officials to clarify that all news publishing operations are “essential,” akin to grocery, pharmacy and other businesses critical to the public’s welfare.