Despite the nice weather, I was feeling a little depressed this week. COVID-19 cases are on the rise. We have to wear masks everywhere we go, which isn’t all that many places due to restrictions. The employment picture is a mess. It seems like a year has gone by and we haven’t gotten anywhere.
Could that be true? Has nothing improved in the last year? I decided to follow the classic journalism advice and check it out.
Near the side door at The Columbian, on the way to the Circulation Department, we have a tiny, locked room called the morgue. When you turn on the light and peer through the window, you can see the reason: It’s filled with dead newspapers. A whole year’s worth, floor to ceiling, arranged in cubbyholes by the date. The only other thing in the room is a big ladder to reach the papers stored up near the ceiling.
I talked my way into borrowing a passkey and let myself in. I wanted to read some papers from a year ago, and compare them to see if I was just too gloomy, or if indeed we are stuck in a rut.
I compared two Wednesday issues: April 15, 2020, and April 14, 2021. Last year’s top story was headlined “IMF: ’20 to be worst year since ’20s.” Yikes. “The world economy in 2020 will suffer its worst year since the Great Depression,” the story opened, and it got sadder from there. Looking back a year later, I was glad to see the story was too pessimistic. But consider this: Last Wednesday’s lead A1 story was “Jobless aid fraud might exceed $1B,” talking about all the money stolen from the state unemployment compensation fund by overseas scammers.