Editorial Roundup: West Virginia

The Herald-Dispatch. November 7, 2022.

Editorial: Even in a digital world, the permanence of print media matters

With another election nearly over, professional pundits, amateur commentators and everyone else are offering their opinions on what happened and why. The same happens every weekend after popular college football teams win or lose.

With the growth of online media, it seems as if we’re drowning in information but starved for the kind of knowledge that comes from hindsight and informed, reasoned and thoughtful analysis. Sarcasm and insults are everywhere; accuracy and empathy are harder to find.

Different media have their strengths and weaknesses. Watching something live on television or listening on radio is one way to experience it. Video and sound grab attention as few alternatives do. Reading about it later when you want to look back and understand the event better is another way.

One thing about print media is permanence. An article in print has more lasting power than one online. A tech on the other side of the world can lock you out of seeing something you have posted on a social media site. That same tech cannot prevent you from reading a newspaper, a magazine or a book you have in your hands.

If someone steals your phone, you can lose a year’s worth of family pictures. Having prints made makes them yours forever. Accessing music online is easy; having a CD or vinyl at home means you can listen to it whenever you want with no one else knowing about it. If a streaming service stops carrying your favorite movie or song, it doesn’t matter if you have your own physical copy. High school yearbooks can be embarrassing, but they are important keepsakes of family history.

That’s why newspapers and other print media remain important in a digital world. They are a permanent record of events — some memorable for the long term and some of only temporary need. That plus there’s something different about holding a physical copy of a newspaper, magazine or book in your hands instead of swiping up and down on a screen.

Print newspapers provide a service you rarely find online, if ever: Legal advertising. People who pore over legal ads learn when roads are about to be paved or bridges painted. They see that a local school board is about to replace the grass playing surface on a softball field with artificial turf. They can entertain themselves by checking which neighbors are delinquent on their property taxes. Nowhere else offers that service in a central location and in a form you can cut out and keep. Or toss.

As we put this election behind us and prepare for another holiday season, it’s good to remember the importance of relying on different sources of information for different needs. How much of a role physical media play in a digital society is yet to be determined, but in the here and now they still have an important part in our lives.

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The Intelligencer. November 9, 2022.

Editorial: Manchin Right To Condemn Biden

As was the case with Hillary Clinton before him, it seems as though President Joe Biden did not think through the way his words might be interpreted when he talked about coal-fired power plants, saying last week during an event in California “We’re going to be shutting these (coal-fired) plants down all across America and having wind and solar… (and) also providing tax credits to help families buy energy-efficient appliances.”

While it may be the case that Biden did not intend the manner in which his remarks became “twisted,” as his press secretary claimed, he cannot un-ring the bell — even if he rang it in California.

Of course our nation’s energy economy must continue its transition to a balanced, all-of-the-above mix of fossil fuels and renewables — we all know that. But the reality is that transition will not fully happen anytime soon, and in the meantime, the president of the United States should not be threatening the livelihood of workers who currently provide more than 20% of the baseload power generation for our nation.

Sen. Joe Manchin was right to quickly condemn the president for his irresponsible comments.

“Being cavalier about the loss of coal jobs for men and women in West Virginia and across the country who literally put their lives on the line to help build and power this country is offensive and disgusting,” Manchin said. “The president owes these incredible workers an immediate and public apology and it is time he learn a lesson that his words matter and have consequences.”

A public apology is unlikely. But what Biden and others in Washington, D.C., do owe those whose livelihood depends on coal is the knowledge that they will not be sacrificed. They deserve to know there will be training available should their plant shut down, new job opportunities to replace what was lost, and that they’ll get the support needed to weather the change. They deserve to know this transition will take place compassionately and as gradually as is reasonable, rather than all at once on some artificially set date.

As with any worker, they deserve respect for the job they do. The president should remember that moving forward.

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News and Sentinel. November 9, 2022.

Editorial: Heart Health: We need to break old habits and get moving

West Virginians have known for generations that our state has among the highest rates in the nation of heart disease and other health issues such as obesity and diabetes. New research suggests that cardiac arrest deaths are actually decreasing in most of the rest of the country; but Black and rural communities are not experiencing the same change.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and adjusting the statistics for age, researchers found a steady overall drop of more than 40% in the rate of cardiac arrest deaths, from 7.7 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999 to 4.4 in 2020.

But that same research showed Black people were the only minority group that didn’t experience a significant drop in cardiac arrest deaths, averaging 8.7 deaths per 100,000 during the study, with an annual average decrease of just 1.8%. And the cardiac arrest death rate in rural areas (8.1) was more than twice as high as it was in big cities (3.5).

“On a society-wide level, we need to find ways for better training and awareness so we can get rid of these embedded disparities,” said Dr. Muchi Ditah Chobufo, a cardiology fellow at West Virginia University School of Medicine in Morgantown.

He is referring to both the number of people who have gone through bystander CPR training and access and quality of care.

There is another challenge, of course. We’ve got to do a better job taking care of our own health. Eating right, breaking bad habits and exercising more can seem daunting (and expensive — though in the case of using tobacco products, it might save some money). But given the price we’ll pay if we do not make the socio-cultural changes necessary to reverse this trend, there really is no other option.

Sure, there is work to be done on the policy front as well. We’ve learned by now, however, that we can’t count on that. If there’s work to be done — and there is — we’re going to have to do it ourselves.

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