We are poised to enter the final quarter of 2020, with October lurking just around the corner.
We also have passed the six-month mark of ‘the pandemic’ turning our lives upside down.
Suffice to say, I was one of those who thought that everything would be back to ‘normal’ by now but I still find myself masking up whenever I go to a public place, using hand sanitizer on a regular basis and getting creative with ways to fill the pages of the paper.
As the local community newspaper, there are many events that occur annually that are staples for us and all of those have just not happened. We have missed things from National Night Out to Oakdale’s Chocolate Festival, Escalon’s Park Fete, even the favorite ice cream social put on at United Methodist Church in Escalon, featuring homemade ice cream and more desserts than you could eat in a month.
We are in the people business. More than anything, we depend upon people to not only feature in stories and photos but we also depend on people choosing to purchase the paper and read it each week.
Now there is concern of what our future holds because our buildings in Manteca and Oakdale are up for sale. This is more of a downsizing of real property, in conjunction with the fact that so many of our own people are spending more time working remotely.
In Manteca, the huge building there used to house the press but that is in a different location now so, the huge building isn’t needed.
In Oakdale, we used to have our own creative services staff and that department was done away with several years ago, moving that operation to Manteca. Plus we also have a deceivingly large building and probably need less than half the space we have, considering so much work is done offsite, so our deceivingly large building isn’t needed.
It’s similar to what they did in Turlock a while back, moving out of a larger space to a smaller one. Now it’s our turn, both Manteca and Oakdale. We do all three of our papers, Oakdale, Riverbank and Escalon, out of the office in Oakdale and, wherever our new office space turns out to be, I’m sure the same will hold true. As long as we have a computer, a camera and internet service, we can get the papers done.
Whenever there’s a big change afoot, though, everyone’s first concern is that the papers are shutting down.
I can understand that, as many newspapers have done just that but we haven’t been provided with any information that would lead us to that conclusion. So just keep reading and we will keep writing and photographing.
My sister and I had a chance to visit and catch up recently and she inquired as to how things were going, as the daily paper in her community has started to scale back; first cutting out a Saturday paper, then dropping two additional days during the week.
We did experiment with an occasional Saturday edition of The Oakdale Leader a couple of years ago; we would do one a few times a year, with the goal then of working it in to the schedule. But as the landscape changed and we started doing the same amount of work with fewer people, the formal addition of a Saturday edition never came to fruition.
We chose to focus instead on the weekly product, plus our website and Facebook. The good thing about our websites is we can post new items whenever they come in; breaking news on Friday instead of having to wait until the next Wednesday to report on whatever it is. That’s a good feature and one we need to use in this online-driven world.
Still, there are those – including my sister – who said they like the comfort of sitting down with a cup of coffee in the morning to read their newspaper.
For my sister and those of you like her, we plan to continue providing that newspaper so you can continue to enjoy that morning routine.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.