Despite pandemic, our job never ended

Kim Brooks
Babbling Brooks Column
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     While society might have slowed down since COVID-19 hit in mid-March, that didn’t stop the news.

     It’s funny but so many people have assumed or asked me what I’ve been doing since then. Working! The news most certainly does not stop because of a pandemic.

     Yes, our sports pages diminished a bit due to the fact that school sports came to a halt, but our sports editor, Pete Temple, kept busy producing special projects. He single-handedly took on our Jones County Visitors Guide on his own, no help from me. (Sorry, Pete.) Typically this publication involves both of us updating tourism-related information. But this time, Pete did it all himself.

     I stayed busy reporting on the news and sharing many COVID-related stories with our loyal readers. Early on, the Jones County Supervisors met at least a couple times a week via Zoom. The Monticello City Council met twice a month via Zoom.

     These meetings provided important information in terms of how the virus was impacting Jones County and Monticello.

     Jones County Public Health provided weekly updates on positive case numbers, recovered patients, and best local practices.

     Emergency Management shared updates on shipments of PPE and where items were being distributed.

     The board of supervisors and city council would discuss phases of re-opening county and city facilities.

     For the last few weeks now I’ve been able to get back to covering the board of supervisors and city council meetings in-person. I never realized that was something I would miss…

     While Zoom was convenient, it had its technological challenges. I think many governing bodies learned a thing or two about public access of meetings. Suffice to say if there’s ever another pandemic, hopefully the kinks have been ironed out when it comes to easy access.

     I also serve on several community boards and committees that also met via Zoom throughout the last few months. I really should have tallied just how many electronic meetings I actually had during this timeframe.

     And Zoom wasn’t the only format I used for meetings and video interviews. I was introduced to What’sApp and GoToMeeting. And for social distancing fun, my friends, family, and I resorted to socializing via the Houseparty app and Facebook video messenger. No reporter can say they didn’t have a plethora of tools are their disposal during COVID-19.

     In terms of accomplishing interviews with many people over the last few months, the good ol’ fashioned telephone saw a resurgence in popularity, as did e-mail. So many of my stories that appeared in issues of the Express since mid-March were the products of phone and e-mail interviews.

     Again, to say I wasn’t busy is an understatement. Aside from the regular meetings, COVID provided plenty of story angles to share with our readers, perhaps an upside to this pandemic, at least in my profession. I interviewed medical professionals with ties to Monticello, former residents of Monticello who now reside in COVID hotspots across the country, people who went out of their way to make homemade PPE for people, teachers who were forced to teach electronically, seniors who saw an early end to their last year of high school, families who found unique ways to entertain their young children while stuck at home, non-profits that were impacted by the virus, funeral home directors on how their industry had changed, childcare providers on how COVID hurt or helped their business, and so much more. Just do a simple search for “COVID-19” on our website ( and you’ll see just how many articles we covered in a three-plus month period; and the work continues.

     Despite so many events and activities in the county having been cancelled or postponed because of coronavirus, there was still obviously plenty to report on.

     While people remarked about the virus impacting our daily work grind, once news hit about the Great Jones County Fair, I also had people ask me if I was excited not to have to cover this summer’s fair. First, no one is ever “excited” or “relieved” about our amazing county fair being cancelled. That’s a lot of money pouring into our community that we will not see this summer. Second, the fair is not cancelled; it’s modified this year. And our portion of the fair that we put a lot of work and energy behind is still happening: the 4-H and FFA livestock shows. So, yes, Pete and I will still be at the fairgrounds doing our part to show off the hard work of our county youth.

     Throughout this pandemic, the media in general have played a very important role in sharing the news. Governors in almost every state, including Iowa, gave daily or weekly press conferences updating their citizens on the latest information they needed to know. I, for one, think Gov. Kim Reynolds did her best to bring us the most updated information that allowed us to work and live safely during this whole ordeal. If you didn’t catch her final video conference last week, she got quite emotional at the end thanking Iowans for their support of her and one another during it all. I don’t think that was for show.

     Your local newspaper, the Monticello Express, is no different from the many media outlets that have also been reporting on COVID-19. And now we’re moving on to our “new normal,” we will continue to bring you the news, human interest stories/features, sports (as they re-start their seasons), and special sections like we always have before.


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