( Awaiting Tables, Toledo, Ohio, USA, January 2020 )
Originally set to be titled "The Land of Rust and Pigskin III" as a continuation of the blog series in progress early in the year, this entry chronicles a shift in focus in light of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If nothing else, the first half of this peculiar year has given me a new respect
for those working on the management side of the field of journalism. Apart from the
raw tasks of finding and fact-checking information relevant to their audience, and
selectively editing the imagery that will illustrate it, these news delivery strategists
are also left with the ongoing task of publishing their finished product with high confidence that what they're publishing is A ) still factually accurate and B ) being published in a climate in which its audience could still consider it timely, or in other words, worthy of their attention given the status quo.
My first impulse to consider the plight of editors-in-chief around the world came
in early March as I was writing an entry here about my experience of working in
the United States in a church earlier this year in Toledo, Ohio,
(continues beneath photo)
( Exhibition Opening Week "They Left 150 Years Ago", Toledo, Ohio, USA, January 2020 )
a part of a region that I learned was undergoing decades of economic recovery following the gradual yet dramatic departure of its once thriving manufacturing industry.
Fortunately, I'd kept reading about Toledo after I left - I felt compelled to having worked
near the particularly barren streets where the heart of its economic activity had taken place decades earlier.
( Mid-Century Manufactory: Fading Facade, Toledo, Ohio, USA, January 2020 )
Ultimately, I was uplifted in my research, discovering the development of the Cliffs Toledo HBI Project, an iron ore and steel manufacturing plant that was under construction (continues beneath video)
and set to offer upwards of 1,000 jobs to a city undergoing a period of 5.4% unemployment (i.e., 50% above the national level at the time), which was enough to make a difference in a city of ~300,000 (especially during the period of its construction). This uplifting discovery (in addition to the potential for a local boost of spirits) given the plant's focus being in the industry that had carried Toledo through its years of peak prosperity.
The project's website referenced a likely launch of iron manufacturing in mid-2020.
Sure enough, the writing and entailed research into this uplifting topic was completed during the first week of March of this year, and it wasn't long before speculation regarding COVID-19 and global society's efforts to minimize its impact took over the consciousness of a massive portion of humanity. The topic swept into society like a rapidly expanding tornado, swallowing entire institutions as it carved its path - as the threat that it brought to the seven billion of us also brought with it an unprecedented downward shift in human activity.
The accompanying story became sharply less relevant and a short time later, no longer even a reality - Cleveland Cliffs, the organization behind the Cliffs Toledo HBI Project, soon announced the suspension of the construction efforts of the new iron ore plant as workers around the world retreated to their homes in a bid to protect humanity.
( Shelter Set for Sheltering in Place, Toledo, Ohio, USA, January 2020 )
There may have been several quintillion disruptions to human activity within those few weeks of discovering the power of this threat (paramount being the loss of life itself). As I realized that my few hours of research on Toledo had lost not only its relevance but also the factual basis of its primary discovery (i.e., the local enrichment offered by the iron ore plant), it also sunk in that this missed chance to click 'Publish' was far from belonging on my or any member of the human species' list of immediate concerns.