Promotional Spotlight Special Edition: Observer-Reporter

Promotional Spotlight Special Edition: Observer-Reporter

The Observer-Reporter connects the community
to healthcare workers with Behind the Mask series

Face masks became a regular part of Pennsylvanians’ wardrobes on Sunday, April 19, when Governor Tom Wolf ordered all citizens to wear them while out in public. Liz Rogers, executive editor of the Observer-Reporter (Washington), thought it only fitting to launch a Behind the Mask series on the same day the order went into effect. The series features interviews with local healthcare workers conducted by veteran staff reporter, Karen Mansfield. “We (the Observer-Reporter team) had been talking about how the healthcare workers are the ones putting their lives on the line every day,” said Rogers. “This gave us the opportunity to introduce them to our readers in a personal way.”

Rogers and her team planned to feature one interview per week for the series; however, in its first week, the series moved to two or three featured interviews per week. The team had initially sought out a few healthcare workers ranging in specializations and locations, but then began receiving requests from other facilities and practices to consider their staff for future interviews. The questions asked of the healthcare workers are generally simple and personal, while Rogers said the final question for every interview is an important open-ended one: What do you want people to know about the COVID-19 pandemic? Rogers said the answers vary, but most come back to the theme of unity and working through this time together.

Rogers explained that the Behind the Mask series was made possible through a grant the Observer-Reporter received from the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association Foundation. She said that since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in mid March, the publication’s staff had been stretched thin as it tried to maintain coverage of the ever-changing pandemic landscape in the region. The grant allowed the publication to dedicate a staff member to this series. “This was something we knew we wanted to do, but we just didn’t have the resources” said Rogers. “Now, through the generosity of the PNA Foundation, we were able to make it happen.”

The response from the healthcare workers who have been interviewed has been positive. Rogers said they appreciate that the spotlight of a community newspaper has been turned on them in a healthy and supportive way. “I think it is incredibly important that our readers and our community get to know and see these people who are going out every day, leaving their homes, jeopardizing their health and the health of their families and loved ones, to work in a medical field,” she said.

For additional information, contact Liz Rogers at (724) 222-2200 or