This morning, Monterey County Weekly staff gathered for an all-staff meeting. These used to happen in a variety of places, sometimes in our office courtyard, sometimes in a hotel meeting room. Now they happen on our screens.
It’s weird to see familiar faces filtered through the still-unfamiliar pixels of videoconferencing. But it’s still a way to connect in this strange time (and a way to check on the status of everyone’s quarantine hair styles; we collectively blame Weekly Founder & CEO Bradley Zeve for the increase in grays).
Surprisingly, the pandemic has also presented a chance for me to feel more familiarity than ever with our readers. The number of responses we receive every day to this newsletter, Monterey County NOW, is practically overwhelming; the number of letters to the editor, particularly thoughtful letters, is also up; so is the number of comments on our social media platforms. The volume of snail mail has remained more or less the same.
There’s a lot of criticism (as there’s always been), but there’s more fan mail than ever before. Here’s a sample of some recent fan mail, stuff we share among ourselves during these virtual staff meetings:
“Thanks for the comments. It is just how we ALL feel…Keep the stories real.”
“You’re my go-to news source for Monterey County.”
“You are a bright spot in a darkening world.”
“Beautifully written and photographed.”
“You’re doing a great job. Keep it up!”
When the pandemic arrived in Monterey County, we at the Weekly, like all businesses, made some fast adaptations. They included the launch of this daily newsletter. They included painful staffing cuts. They included editorial changes, such as reframing our Good Week/Bad Week column to Good Week/Great Week—the bad was suddenly self-evident for all of us.
It also included an urgent ask of our readers to financially support our mission. We set a goal of getting to 2,000 Weekly Insiders by the end of July. Now, two days ahead of schedule, there are 2,021 of you who have joined us with a monetary contribution—thank you.
And to those of you who have criticisms, questions, ideas and, yes, fan mail, we accept it all. For those of you who haven't yet become a Weekly Insider, please join us, and support your local and independent journalism. Thank you—and keep the correspondence coming.
-Sara Rubin, editor, email@example.com