On April 29, 2020

Silver lining

By Lisa Loomis, The Valley Reporter

In the midst of this time of self-isolation and social distancing during Covid-19 our lives have changed in so many ways that it’s hard to keep up.

A lot of these changes have been difficult and scary and painful. But at least one change in how Vermont conducts itself has been good and that has been the way Vermont’s elected leaders communicate with us.

With his three-times-a-week press conference, Governor Phil Scott and his cabinet have been providing unparalleled access to the information they are using to guide their decisions.

Governor Scott and Health Commissioner Mark Levine are standing at the podium for 90 minutes to two hours three times a week fielding calls from print, broadcast and digital journalists from all over the state. Oftentimes other cabinet members are present either in person or by phone.

By demonstrating such willingness to answer every single question from every corner of the state, Scott and his team are providing all journalists with a vast amount of information that they disseminate to their communities, improving all Vermonters’ awareness and information during this pandemic.

And that’s a good thing. Far too often, only a handful of media outlets cover press conferences. Now that journalists are encouraged to call in versus attend in person, participation is much more extensive and inclusive and this will change how newsgathering takes place in Vermont going forward.

It helps all of us to hear the concerns and questions asked by reporters from other parts of the state. It gives all of us a fuller picture of what is happening and what is important during this challenging time.

Clearly the governor and his cabinet and staff have an enormous amount on their plates, yet, following the governor’s example, they are taking the time to respond to every question they are asked.

Compare these extremely informative and useful press conferences with what is happening at the national level where journalists are berated and scolded and talked over. We’re lucky here in Vermont that getting critical information to the public is such a high priority for the Scott administration.

That’s a real silver lining.

Lisa Loomis is the editor of The Valley Reporter in Waitsfield.

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