Leader News gets a ‘wonderful response’ on efforts to encourage vaccinations to readers

From Stacie Barton, Central City Leader News

After reading about Crittenden Press’s vaccination project (see last week’s On Second Thought), I wanted to share what we have been up to here at the Leader-News. Back in July, I sent a letter to county officials, medical leaders and others in our community, asking them to encourage our readers to get vaccinated against covid-19.

We had such a wonderful response! I have published OpEds and letters to the editor from our county judge executive, several magistrates, the superintendent of schools, our state representative and our state senator, our hospital CEO and the head of hospitalists who is a front-line covid doctor, as well as a venerated local doctor who many trust.

As we started to see the delta wave hit us here in July, I figured what would be the worst thing to happen, if I just asked local leaders to lend their voices. Turns out, many were happy to do so. I truly believe local newspapers have a unique opportunity to share local, trusted voices with our readers at a time when this is needed most.

I have a quote from a December 2020 “Into the Issues” by Al Cross hanging on my bulletin board. It says, “Changing strongly held beliefs is not a job for newspapers. But not all beliefs are strongly held, and a lot of people aren’t sure what to believe – partly because social media dominate the debate and amplify the extremes.” I look to it often.

I encourage others in a similar position to reach out to their local leaders and ask them to lend their voices as well. I was surprised how eager they were to help.

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