Each December, the CN&R reflects on the news of the year by putting together a list of top stories. It’s a tradition around these parts, as it is for newspapers around the nation and the world.
Journalists everywhere have had one subject in common for the entirety of 2021: the coronavirus pandemic. Locally, we’re approaching the two-year mark on that front. We began our coverage of the virus in early February 2020, and we don’t see an end in sight. Not even close.
COVID-19 has been all-consuming. The pandemic has affected virtually every aspect of our community—from health care and commerce to arts and education. In a word, it’s ubiquitous.
It’s also deadly, more so this year than the last. As of press time, 308 Butte County residents have died of COVID-19—
130 in 2020, 178 in 2021.
Of course, coronavirus also has caused the demise of numerous local businesses, too many to count. The CN&R was nearly among the casualties. When we closed our doors in March 2020—transitioning temporarily to an all-online, all-volunteer news source—we weren’t sure whether we’d ever print another copy.
It took a few months, but we regrouped, launched a new website that allows for greater publishing flexibility and began printing once a month. Local news coverage is more critical than ever, so printing less frequently isn’t ideal. However, we’ve done our best to keep the community informed and engaged on pressing issues.
As the year comes to a close, we’d be remiss if we didn’t reflect on how this newspaper is still around thanks to the generous contributions of our readers. Fact is, many publications haven’t survived the economic woes driven by the coronavirus. According to the nonprofit Poynter Institute, more than 90 local newsrooms have closed since the pandemic began.
That’s a disconcerting prospect for rural regions like Butte County, as history has shown that communities lacking local journalism are more susceptible to misinformation, government corruption and corporate malfeasance.
That’s why it’s imperative to maintain the fourth estate. Holding the powerful to account, writing without fear or favor, simply wouldn’t happen around these parts without the CN&R and other alternative newsmedia.
We very much appreciate our dedicated advertisers, and we’re especially grateful for the readers who have contributed to the coffers that specifically support our editorial efforts. Thanks to those donations, we’ve covered a vast array of topics, from food insecurity and wildfires to political misconduct and homelessness.
Our hope is to expand our coverage in the coming year, but we’ll need the support of our readers to sustain us. Thanks, in advance, for your continued dedication to local independent news.