CORONAVIRUS

New features to launch in Gazette in coming week

The Gazette newsroom, at 500 Third Ave. SE in downtown Cedar Rapids, on Wednesday, February 19, 2020. (Thomas Friestad/T
The Gazette newsroom, at 500 Third Ave. SE in downtown Cedar Rapids, on Wednesday, February 19, 2020. (Thomas Friestad/The Gazette)

The rapid spread and economic fallout of coronavirus has dominated worldwide attention. While The Gazette has been racing to keep up with local storylines and sort through an endless stream of updates and information, it is important we provide readers with a healthy balance of ways to relax, be creative and stay inspired. To that end, we’re launching a series of content adjustments beginning this coming week.

These changes come partially out of necessity and ways to escape from constant pandemic coverage. We’ll be temporarily scaling back pages dedicated to sports coverage, and we’ve put the print edition of Hoopla on hiatus for a few weeks. We’ll cover those relevant storylines in the main news section.

Beginning Monday, we’ll roll out a revamped community page that is focused on innovative ways people are managing in times of social distancing. You’ll find some features of these ideas, tips for yourselves, and we’ll also try to connect you with online concerts and events. This page will run Monday through Wednesday as long as the situation warrants.

We’ll also roll out a page focused on activities and content for kids with a goal to dedicate this space for kid-driven content going forward. Kids Gazette begins Wednesday. It will appear three times per week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. We’re hopeful this gives young readers an opportunity to have fun with our newspaper as we use the page to share kid stories and works.

On Sundays, we’ll be launching a three-page section called Leisure. It will be a collection of stories about hobbies, crafting and recreational activities. The pages will appear in the back portion of Sports.

If you read the PennySaver, you’ll notice a change there, too. We’ll donate space for school districts to deliver education materials to students each week. These pages help ensure materials are delivered to as many homes as possible so that those without internet can keep from sliding academically. While it certainly won’t replace what goes on in classrooms, we’re proud to offer a way to help get through a sudden change.

These ideas are being launched quickly, and your feedback can help shape them. We’re also looking for crafters, makers and educators who have creative ideas to share with readers. Please share thoughts or ideas at zack.kucharski@thegazette.com.

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Additionally, with social distancing requirements and the entire company working from home, we need your help connecting to people affected by coronavirus. We’re putting the requests at https://thegazette.com/helpreport. Among current needs: parents dealing with day care questions or concerns, gym members finding ways to keep active, artists finding ways to remain inspired.

Finally, I wanted to address how the coronavirus affects The Gazette as a business. Some claim the media are overhyping or using this to create panic and drive profits. This is false. There is financial benefit to creating content the audience wants, they come in subscriptions and views. This isn’t all that different from a grocery store stocking more products that sell quickly. However, our focus is on serving and informing our community with news we think is important. Our goal is never to create a panic, but to provide information that helps you understand what’s happening and how to stay safe.

Our team has been having frequent and extensive conversations about ethical issues that come up, and has been relying on Poynter and other institutions that are providing our team best practices in an unprecedented scenario.

Like all local businesses, this has been a particularly challenging time in our organization’s 136-year history. Aside from the logistical challenges, there are business realities. We receive revenue from subscribers, advertising and events. In this pandemic, two of the three streams already have been significantly impacted. The social distancing and closure of many businesses has significantly reduce the number of ads, while the restriction of groups of more than 10 has eroded the events revenue for now.

Despite the many uncertainties, our commitment to keeping you updated and entertained is unwavering. On behalf of the entire Gazette staff, stay safe, stay healthy and thank you for reading.

Zack Kucharski

Executive editor, The Gazette

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.