A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
Is there any good news at all during this shocking shutdown of the United States? This global disruption by an invisible demon? It’s a stretch, but I am seeing lots of examples of how this crisis is inspiring incredible creativity all around the world:
– Medical pros are reorganizing emergency rooms and setting up makeshift facilities and even figuring out ways to upgrade ventilators.
– Countless organizations and individuals are donating masks and other supplies.
– There’s a “worldwide hackathon” underway to solve some of the supply shortages.
– Grocery stores are setting up seniors-only hours.
– Restaurants and breweries are turning into delivery services overnight.
– Smart thermometers are being used to map cases.
– Rival newspapers in the United Kingdom published front pages with the same message: “When you’re on your own, we are there with you.”
– In Argentina, major papers ran identical headlines: “We stop the virus together, let’s make responsibility go viral.”
– Schools are using Zoom and other forms of video chat software to reconnect students with their friends.
– TV networks are getting creative too, with town hall events and extra hours of news coverage.
– Late-night stars are shooting their shows from their homes. In turn, CBS News is using the “Late Show” set for its morning show, while its usual digs are closed.
– Celeb DJ/producer/rapper D-Nice is “spinning records on his Instagram Live” for a virtual quarantine party.
– Musicians, comedians and other artists are holding live-streamed performances from their homes.
– Rita Wilson is rapping in quarantine!
– Madonna posted on social media from her bathtub.
– Americans are following Italy’s lead and singing from their windows.
– Through the hashtag #SolidarityAt8, residents are cheering for health care heroes at 8pm local time.
– Some of the best “content” from this crisis is homemade, from users who are making videos just to pass the time. For example: This “Love is Blind” parody.
– “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” returned on Sunday for one night only to raise money for The Actors Fund.
We are all connected
On Sunday’s “Reliable Sources,” I asked AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson if the company’s networks have been able to keep up with increased demand. Yes, he said: “Face-to-face communication that once existed is now happening over mobile devices. It’s happening over WiFi. And the infrastructure is holding up quite well. We’re seeing some signs of stress. We’re having to go out and do some augmentation of networks, and so we’re sending our employees out to get that done. But right now, the network is performing quite well.” This is a testament to America’s investment in communications infrastructure, he said, crediting AT&T along with rivals Verizon and T-Mobile. Clare Duffy has our full story here…
“Terrific work” by CNN
AT&T, of course, is the owner of CNN. And this pandemic is the biggest story CNN has had to cover since AT&T took control of the network. So I asked Stephenson what it means to own CNN at this time.
“This is like World War II,” he answered. “Everybody needs to step up and do their part… And I see the press as vital in a time like this, in a time of war, to make sure that our people are informed; to make sure that our politicians have a means of communicating; to hold people accountable, people in power, whether it be CEOs like me or politicians, to hold people accountable during these times; and getting information to the public.” He noted that journalists have a first-responder-type role by covering what’s happening at hospitals, testing sites and other locales…
Netflix’s response to the crisis
Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos joined me on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” and said the streaming service hopes to make staying at home “a little more bearable.”
– “Every one of our productions around the world has shut down. I believe that’s unprecedented in history,” Sarandos said. Affected employees will be paid for the next two weeks…
– Sarandos said streaming video hopefully makes people “feel a little less isolated while we are being physically isolated…”