Feeding 'Fred' the News

Mar. 12, 2021

As we reached the one-year mark of the pandemic shutdown in the United States, you probably read many pieces that looked back over the past year. From the tragic loss of loved ones to empty shelves at grocery stores to a completely new way of living our lives, COVID-19 impacted everything.

Brian Wilson, news editor of The Star News in Medford, Wisconsin, has been documenting this tumultuous last year in the pages of the weekly publication in a unique way.  I’ll let him explain:

“Last spring when the pandemic hit, I started writing columns as letters to a future reporter named ‘Fred’ (after Fred Rogers, because the world needs hope) with the concept that ‘Fred’ was a cub reporter in 2120 and was given the job of doing a story on the 100th anniversary of COVID-19,” he said.

For the first couple of months he penned his “Fred” columns weekly as coronavirus updates were fast and furious. Since then he’s done occasional dispatches for “Fred” on things like the cancellation of the county fair, the start of school and the impact on the holidays.

Wilson said the columns aren’t just a way to document history, but also serve as a reminder to people that, no matter how they feel about it, we are living in historic times.

“Overall they have been very well received,” Wilson told me. “One reader commented to me that she especially enjoyed reading those columns because they gave her a new perspective that people in the future would care about what was going on.” 

He said he planned on writing one this month for the one-year anniversary of the local emergency declarations and see how things have changed.

“There is a lot of optimism right now in the community,” Wilson said, “which is a far cry from the fear that was there a year ago.”