There are moments where this work really humbles you. I had one that I’ll never forget while reporting on convalescent plasma for this issue.
Convalescent plasma, in case you’re unfamiliar, is a medical treatment where patients fighting a virus are given blood from people who’ve survived it and developed antibodies. The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, is so deadly because humans have never before battled it—which makes antibody transfusion a very promising treatment.
I knew nothing about any of this in early January, of course. Journalists are mostly generalists, with broad but shallow knowledge and no real expertise beyond getting and sharing accurate information. In the wake of the pandemic, I set out to learn as much as I could as fast as I could, digging into medical journals and ringing up experts on virology, history and macroeconomics.
These people were all a lot smarter and busier than me, and they generously shared their time. Any journalist knows we’re only as good as the folks who’ll talk to us, and I try to never take their generosity for granted.
It’s rare that the person on the other end of the line is as excited as I am—particularly when they’re working overtime to save lives. Because of federal health privacy laws, if you recover from coronavirus your doctor can’t pass your name along. Which is where local media comes in: We’re the link between the folks in the labs and the people who unknowingly have a life-saving treatment pumping through their veins.
Given all the medical jargon and PR-speak involved, I only pieced this dynamic together in the middle of a call with two local doctors working on the treatment. So this is why you need me?
“Yes, yes, yes, yes,” one confirmed with joyful relief.
Like I said, a very humbling moment.
Although we’re proud to bring a Beard Award finalist coffee writer to town to grade KC cafés or eat at fifty-plus barbecue restaurants to bring you a list of the city’s best, serious times demand that all journalists pitch in to deliver vital reporting about a pandemic that’s reshaping our world. If you go back to our last all-en-compassing national tragedy, 9/11, there were quadruple the number of journalists covering communities like ours.
For those of us who are left, there’s a sacred obligation to get up every morning and share honest, important local news for the good of our community. That’s how I feel, anyway. So that’s what you’ll find woven throughout this issue and online at KansasCityMag.com.
It’s also part of our mission to help you get out there and enjoy life, so after delaying our guide to easy regional day trips, we are pleased to help you (cautiously!) get out.
Stay safe out there, and we thank you for the opportunity to serve you as journalists.
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NOTABLE NUMBERS FROM THIS MONTH’S ISSUE:
100.4 Degrees at which you officially have a fever
2,233 Population of Walt Disney’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri
$1,200 Cost of a rare Nirvana shirt from a KC luxury vintage dealer.