Daniel Suddeath

Daniel Suddeath

This may be hard for you to believe, but when I began my career as a cub reporter, I knew everything.

Opining from my throne of ideology, I had an answer for every problem the news industry faced.

Management? Oh, I had plenty of ideas to share with them. It's amazing and unfortunate they couldn't realize or concede that I was a genius.

They say as you get older, you get wiser, but the opposite must have been true for me. With age, I seemed to know less. Experiences in the real world had shattered my glass house of absolute knowledge.

Then about five years ago I was hired as an editor, and I realized how little I ever knew. It's different on this side of the street. You have to consider how each action affects an entire organization. You have several employees who you're responsible for when you're an editor. You have to consider more than yourself.

In response to coronavirus concerns, some universities have suspended classes, some sporting events have been cancelled and some travel plans have been altered, mainly as a precaution.

Unfortunately, many of these decisions have been chided by people who aren't seeing the big picture.

Sure, you're more likely to die of the flu, at least for now, in Kentucky than coronavirus. But do we not cancel school when the flu bug hits hard and results in low attendance numbers?

Nursing homes often have signs asking the public to not enter the building if they are sick.

Employers with half a brain encourage their employees to take a sick day if they have a contagious illness, as they don't want their entire staff infected.

Coronavirus is a new illness that's spread like wildfire in China and Italy. Those countries didn't get out ahead of the problem, and they're dealing with the consequences.

We have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. We can deal with some minor inconveniences now, or we risk major changes to our lifestyle in the coming months. Despite what any politician wants you to believe, we only need to look at how this illness has affected other countries to realize taking no action is foolish.

Say this out loud:

"I would rather thousands of people risk being exposed to coronavirus than have a basketball game played in an empty gym?"

Here's another one:

"I think colleges should stay in session and risk spreading a contagious illness as opposed to having students finish their semesters through online course work?"

Such statements sound pretty silly in the grand scheme of things. But these are the decisions school administrators, sports executives and elected officials are having to make.

Sure, there are segments of our population who are quite healthy and aren't at-risk to the illness. But what about the entirety of the public? A college president is responsible for all of the students on a campus. An elected official is charged with doing what's best for all the people in his jurisdiction.

The situation reminds me of snow days. School officials can do no right when it comes to cancelling class.

"It's not that bad on my road but they still let these kids out of school," says the parent who isn't responsible for the safety and well-being of thousands of other students.

But let one child be injured in a wreck on a slick road and some of those same folks will be the first ones to call for the heads of the school officials who thought it was OK for classes to remain in session.

The same scenario relates to the media. If we report on concerns and preventive actions over coronavirus, then some will accuse us of overhyping the situation. If we ignore the issue, then we're part of some conspiracy to keep people in the dark.

Before criticizing what leaders are doing to address the problem, realize they will be judged for what they do to protect the masses. It's better to be safe than sorry, especially when people's health is at stake.

Suddeath is the editor of the Glasgow Daily Times. Reach him at 270-678-5171, or by email at dsuddeath@glasgowdailytimes.com.

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