Product of lemons depends on how they’re handled

Phil Castle

A proverb has been stuck in my brain for months now and festered there like a splinter. When life gives you lemons, the well-worn saying goes, make lemonade.

Is that too much Pollyanna can-doism in the face of a pandemic that’s brought tragedy to so many lives? Or is it the only way forward given the altogether understandable but even more tragic alternative of simply calling it quits?

As editor of a business journal and member of the news media, I’ve been both impressed and discouraged with what’s been done with lemons.

I’ve been repeatedly impressed by the way businesses have responded to the pandemic and restrictions on their operations. Restaurants initially prohibited from offering dining switched to carryout and delivery. Retailers followed suit with their own variations on that theme.

Other businesses have been just as adept and adaptive in changing their operations. I’ve been fortunate to report stories about a cleaning business that’s disinfecting offices, stores and homes. A company offering genetic testing added COVID-19 testing to its services. And Reynolds Polymer Technology, the Grand Junction-based company perhaps best known for supplying components for the largest aquariums in the world, pivoted as well.
The company quickly responded to meet the sudden demand for thin acrylic panels used in the protective barriers that have become nearly ubiquitous.

If I’ve learned nothing else in my more than 20-year tenure as editor of the Business Times, it’s that business owners are a thankfully creative and resilient lot. That’s encouraging.

Conversely, I’m discouraged by the results of a recent Gallup poll that revealed Americans disapproved of the way the news media has handled the response to the coronavirus pandemic. While 44 percent of those who responded to the poll said they approved of the way the news media has handle the situation, 55 percent disapproved. The news media was the only one of a total of nine institutions and leaders that received more negative than positive responses.

I suspect some of the disapproval stems from frustration with conflicting reports over the effects of COVID-19 and measures to slow its spread. However, the sources of those reports have been conflicting, even among the president of the United States and those officials charged with protecting our health.

I wonder, too, how much the disapproval of the news media has to do with confusion over what constitutes media. Media includes newspapers and magazines as well as television and radio stations. I’m less inclined to include social media.
I worry disparate entities get lumped together by what’s become a disparaging term.

I admit media hasn’t uniformly handled the pandemic well. There’s been what I consider an alarming trend to overemphasize political implications.

All I can do is to promise readers I’ll do my best to report news in as straightforward a manner as possible and leave opinions on the opinion page.

Otherwise, the result of mishandling lemons is more sour outcome than welcome refreshment.