Not every headline needs to be ‘gathering gloom’

Headlines can be tough to write sometimes. It’s especially hard when an editor has to write a big page 1 headline that overarches multiple articles on the same topic — such as coronavirus.

The one we came up with for Saturday was “gathering gloom.” The word “gathering” was very much in the news, since our lead story had to do with New York state restricting events and places where people congregate, to slow the spread of the virus and its COVID-19 disease. And “gloom” certainly was accurate to describe to growing mood. Plus, “gathering gloom” was short enough for the size we wanted to run the lead headline. It worked on many levels.

Our concern was that it was, well, gloomy. We didn’t want to lead anyone toward despair.

Still, we didn’t have any better ideas, and by the time deadline rolled around late Friday night, that was what we went with.

We second-guessed it all weekend, especially when we saw some people stressed out by the crush of current events. But as it tuns out, we haven’t heard any complaints — not even on Facebook.

Still, there’s something to be said for not letting the gloom dominate the front page every day. This weekend was gloriously sunny. Spring emerged. Crocuses started sprouting. Saranac Lake bucked the trends and held its St. Patrick’s Day parade, to the pleasure of many. All that is going in today’s paper — prominently placed alongside the coronavirus news.

This is uncharted territory we’re going through. It’s a gigantic shakeup of our way of life, but silver linings will emerge. Less travel will mean less air pollution, for a while. People who stay home will get all kinds of things done, from spring cleaning to artistic creation. Many will emerge with a greater eagerness to see and appreciate each other. Much of the money people don’t spend now will be spent eventually. And society will learn to be more flexible, how to break out of our ruts when the need presents itself.

Sure, we’re trying to look on the bright side, but in fact, the bright side is there, just waiting to be seen.

Granted, the newspaper’s main job is not to lift people’s spirits. It’s to show people what’s really happening: good, bad and ugly. But “what’s really happening” isn’t all bad.


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