I have brought three fictional characters in to discuss their thoughts for 2021. Please welcome Yoda from the “Star Wars” series, Jack Ryan from Tom Clancy books, and Jane Craig from the film “Broadcast News.” I will call you all by your first names. Well, except for you, Yoda.
TBR: After such a tumultuous 2020, I wanted to ask you what you all thought would likely happen next year.
Yoda: Tough to say, the future is. If the answers you don’t like, the questions you must change.
Jack: Look, I’m not sure what we’re doing here, but I think the vaccine offers real hope for change. Your world, such as it is, should be able to move in the right direction.
Jane: The trends at this point are horrific. You have enormous numbers of positive tests each day, hospitalizations are up and the number of dead continues to rise.
TBR: Yoda, you’re kind of off point and sound like a backwards fortune cookie. Jack, I appreciate the optimism and Jane, I think you’re focusing on the negatives.
Jane: We can’t preclude the possibility that the positive infections will continue to climb for months. While it’d be swell to have a big party to celebrate the vaccine and the return to whatever version of normal each of us has, it’s important that we protect ourselves and our families.
Jack: She’s right. Everyone doesn’t have the vaccine and everyone hasn’t taken it, which means we won’t reach herd immunity for a while. While this is killing the entertainment industry, among so many others, it’s necessary for us to sit tight for a while. At the same time, we need to consider the possibility that other governments will become opportunistic about this messy transition at the White House. We need to protect ourselves and remain vigilant. This is a dangerous time, in so many ways, and we need to analyze all kinds of traffic.
Yoda: Know something about vigilance, do I. Messy, this world has become. Goodness, hope and optimism, there remains. Effort to get there will it take.
TBR: Jane, this question, in particular, seems right up your alley. What do you think about the news business in 2021?
Jane: I’m not going to lie to you, it’s been a tough year for everyone, particularly in the news business. We are not the enemy. When we do our jobs well, people get to hear the truth. They can make informed decisions that affect their lives. Are there problems? Of course, but that doesn’t make the entire industry corrupt, any more than it would in any other business.
Yoda: Inside each of us, the enemy resides. Confront it, we must.
Jack: I’ve dealt with journalists all the time. They are a competitive group, I’ll give them that, but they are necessary to shine light, at the right time, on everything from the fight against the virus to the battle against corrupt governments.
TBR: Do you think we’ve learned any lessons from 2020?
Jack: It’s been a brutal year and so many people have lost so much. The numbers don’t tell the entire story. We can only live with what we know: we can protect ourselves and our family through policies that have nothing to do with politics. Careful analysis and science brought us the vaccines. We need to make informed decisions about using them.
Jane: Exactly my point, Jack. We can and should make informed decisions, which the media, at its best, can support.
Yoda: Mistakes, everyone makes. Opportunities to learn, we have. Family and those fortunate enough to share life with us, we must cherish.