Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

Our View


July 16, 2020

From both a personal and community perspective, we’d like to commend the boards and districts that have been conscientiously providing online access to their meetings throughout this pandemic. Not only has it allowed the public to avoid small rooms of large groups – the kind of places we’ve all been warned about by health experts – it has opened a new line of transparency to the people of Crook County.

Offering choice is always commendable, when it’s possible to do so. Not everyone can take time off during the working day, or leave the kids in the evening, or even leave their house easily at all.

For some people, it’s just not feasible to sit through a meeting. Some have balked at taking part in the running of their community for this reason.

Online access has provided options for those people who would like to know what’s going on without the commitment of sitting in one place for a few hours. The public has been able to tune in for the duration or dip in and out to hear the issues that affect them.

We watched as the teething problems were solved and our elected officials got used to the camera being a member of the audience. We were impressed, because not one of them gave up even when technology wasn’t on their side.

Squealing feedback and audio loss aside, it has been a relatively smooth transition. Today, we know we can tune in to meetings with confidence.

Speaking from a personal perspective, this has been invaluable to keep your newspaper running and full of current information. It allowed us to keep covering what’s important to you when the county was largely self-isolating. Even now, as the state slowly loosens its restrictions, we are still taking advantage of the online option.

We’re doing this purposefully. Crook County has thus far escaped the worst of the pandemic and we are hopeful that trend will continue, but we’ll still do our best to be cautious.

Journalists have daily task lists that involve contacting the people who keep this community running. From city hall to the courthouse, the hospital and school district to the businesses, covering the news means staying in touch with all those people who form the heartbeat of Crook County.

The implications of being the source of a local outbreak are particularly worrying, because of this fact. A community journalist would be an unpleasant plaguebringer, because he or she could cause infections that could potentially cause your county officials, city staff, doctors and nurses, business owners, teachers and more to get sick.

We’re a small county with a small number of people trained and able to perform these roles. Our institutional knowledge is limited by this fact.

If those people who do our community’s vital jobs get sick or need to quarantine, the people of this community can’t conduct their business and our government entities will find it difficult to function. Better safe than sorry – we’d rather not be the reason that happened.

So while we don’t turn away anyone who needs to speak to us in person, we’ve made the choice to do everything possible to avoid face-to-face contact as much as we can for the time being. The diligence of our local boards, commission and council has allowed us to do that. We thank them for making it happen.

We’d also like to urge our elected officials to consider using virtual meeting technology into the future. We’ve already invested in the infrastructure and worked through the teething problems, so why stop now?

Offering choice is always commendable, whether or not there’s a global pandemic. Who knows how many people might be interested to tune in for a while to hear what’s going on, if they can do so from the comfort of their sofa?


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