Relaying accurate information, in the normal course of events, is vital. Scrutinising government, in the normal course of events, is also vital. But these are not normal times. And our ability to carry out the functions of a news organisation is reliant on the financial resources that evidence-based reporting requires.
However, the Guardian, alongside many businesses, has been significantly impacted by the pandemic. Like many other news organisations, we are facing an unprecedented collapse in advertising revenues that further imperil the industry’s sustainability.
We rely to an ever-greater extent on our readers both for the moral force to continue doing journalism at a time like this and for the financial strength to facilitate that reporting.
And there has never been a greater need for that reporting. At a time when science and reason should be steering public policy, we see conjecture and instinct driving the US’s response. From touting untested hydroxychloroquine to suggesting ingesting bleach, the White House has ventilated anti-science. Drs Birx and Fauci have been all but silenced. Meanwhile, anti-vaxxers are storming state capitols and infiltrating the lockdown protests.
Science is fighting hard to be heard but the drumbeat of economic interests is drowning it out. The Guardian, however, will continue to give science a voice so that the US public can make informed decisions based on data, not dogma. Even as coronavirus cases rise across much of the country, the president has become the cheerleader-in-chief for reopening the states. Logic dictates we do otherwise but logic and reason are in short supply. And these decisions matter. It is critical that news organisations properly invigilate government policy and show how it shapes peoples’ lives – and their deaths. Without reader support, our ability to do so will be limited.
In our coverage to date, we have highlighted how this pandemic is disproportionately impacting people of color – both their health and economic wellbeing. African Americans have been dying in record numbers because they often live in polluted environments, have less access to healthcare and have more underlying conditions due to toxic stress. In economic terms, black and Hispanic Americans have been the hardest hit. This gives the lie to the so-called “booming economy”, which was already under-serving millions and millions of Americans. Race is never far from the surface of the country’s inequalities. With this pandemic, it is front and center.
And in our special project Lost on the Frontline, we have been determined to record the lives and deaths of frontline workers. Many of these workers are immigrants – even as this administration uses the pandemic to further its war on legal and illegal immigration.
As an outside news organisation headquartered in the UK, we can bring a different perspective to some of the more bizarre behaviors evident throughout the pandemic. In any other country, men armed with semi-automatic weapons storming government buildings would be referred to as “armed militias” or “extremists”. But here they are encouraged by the president. As Rashida Tlaib, the congresswoman from Michigan, said at the weekend: “Black people get executed by police for just existing, while white people dressed like militia members carrying assault weapons are allowed to threaten state legislators and staff.”
As we said, these are not normal times. And at a time like this, an independent news organisation that fights for data over dogma, and fact over fake, is not just optional. It is essential.
On this special edition of Giving Tuesday, and as our business model comes under even greater pressure, we’d love for you to consider supporting us so that we can carry on that essential work.