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Why Buy a Yacht When You Can Buy a Newspaper?

Billionaires have had a pretty good pandemic. There are more of them than there were a year ago, even as the crisis has exacerbated inequality. But scrutiny has followed these ballooning fortunes. Policymakers are debating new taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals. Even their philanthropy has come under increasing criticism as an exercise of power as much as generosity.

One arena in which the billionaires can still win plaudits as civic-minded saviors is buying the metropolitan daily newspaper.

The local business leader might not have seemed like such a salvation a quarter century ago, before Craigslist, Google and Facebook began divvying up newspapers’ fat ad revenues. Generally, the neighborhood billionaires are considered worth a careful look by the paper’s investigative unit. But a lot of papers don’t even have an investigative unit anymore, and the priority is survival.

This media landscape nudged newspaper ownership from the vanity column toward the philanthropy side of the ledger. Paying for a few more reporters and to fix the coffee machine can earn you acclaim for a lot less effort than, say, spending two decades building the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

$680 million bid by Hansjörg Wyss, a little-known Swiss billionaire, and Stewart W. Bainum Jr., a Maryland hotel magnate, for Tribune Publishing and its roster of storied broadsheets and tabloids like The Chicago Tribune, The Daily News and The Baltimore Sun.

Should Mr. Wyss and Mr. Bainum succeed in snatching Tribune away from Alden Global Capital, whose bid for the company had already won the backing of Tribune’s board, the purchase will represent the latest example of a more than decade-long quest by some of America’s ultrawealthy to prop up a crumbling pillar of democracy.

If there was a signal year in this development, it came in 2013. That is when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post and the Red Sox’ owner, John Henry, bought The Boston Globe.

“I invested in The Globe because I believe deeply in the future of this great community, and The Globe should play a vital role in determining that future,” Mr. Henry wrote at the time.

led a revival of the paper to its former glory. And after a somewhat rockier start, experts said that Mr. Henry and his wife, Linda Pizzuti Henry, the chief executive officer of Boston Globe Media Partners, have gone a long way toward restoring that paper as well.

Norman Pearlstine, who served as executive editor for two years after Dr. Soon-Shiong’s purchase and still serves as a senior adviser. “I don’t think that’s open to debate or dispute.”

From Utah to Minnesota and from Long Island to the Berkshires, local grandees have decided that a newspaper is an essential part of the civic fabric. Their track records as owners are somewhat mixed, but mixed in this case is better than the alternative.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill released a report last year showing that in the previous 15 years, more than a quarter of American newspapers disappeared, leaving behind what they called “news deserts.” The 2020 report was an update of a similar one from 2018, but just in those two years another 300 newspapers died, taking 6,000 journalism jobs with them.

“I don’t think anybody in the news business even has rose colored glasses anymore,” said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute, a nonprofit journalism advocacy group. “They took them off a few years ago, and they don’t know where they are.”

“The advantage of a local owner who cares about the community is that they in theory can give you runway and also say, ‘Operate at break-even on a cash-flow basis and you’re good,’” said Mr. Rosenstiel.

won a prestigious Polk Award for its coverage of the killing of George Floyd and the aftermath.

“The communities that have papers owned by very wealthy people in general have fared much better because they stayed the course with large newsrooms,” said Ken Doctor, on hiatus as a media industry analyst to work as C.E.O. and founder of Lookout Local, which is trying to revive the local news business in smaller markets, starting in Santa Cruz, Calif. Hedge funds, by contrast, have expected as much as 20 percent of revenue a year from their properties, which can often be achieved only by stripping papers of reporters and editors for short-term gain.

Alden has made deep cuts at many of its MediaNews Group publications, including The Denver Post and The San Jose Mercury News. Alden argues that it is rescuing papers that might otherwise have gone out of business in the past two decades.

And a billionaire buyer is far from a panacea for the industry’s ills. “It’s not just, go find yourself a rich guy. It’s the right rich person. There are lots of people with lots of money. A lot of them shouldn’t run newspaper companies,” said Ann Marie Lipinski, curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and the former editor of The Chicago Tribune. “Sam Zell is Exhibit A. So be careful who you ask.”

beaten a retreat from the industry. And there have even been reports that Dr. Soon-Shiong has explored a sale of The Los Angeles Times (which he has denied).

“The great fear of every billionaire is that by owning a newspaper they will become a millionaire,” said Mr. Rosenstiel.

Elizabeth Green, co-founder and chief executive at Chalkbeat, a nonprofit education news organization with 30 reporters in eight cities around the country, said that rescuing a dozen metro dailies that are “obviously shells of their former selves” was never going to be enough to turn around the local news business.

“Even these attempts are still preserving institutions that were always flawed and not leaning into the new information economy and how we all consume and learn and pay for things,” said Ms. Green, who also co-founded the American Journalism Project, which is working to create a network of nonprofit outlets.

Ms. Green is not alone in her belief that the future of American journalism lies in new forms of journalism, often as nonprofits. The American Journalism Project received funding from the Houston philanthropists Laura and John Arnold, the Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and Laurene Powell Jobs’s Emerson Collective, which also bought The Atlantic. Herbert and Marion Sandler, who built one of the country’s largest savings and loans, gave money to start ProPublica.

“We’re seeing a lot of growth of relatively small nonprofits that are now part of what I would call the philanthropic journalistic complex,” said Mr. Doctor. “The question really isn’t corporate structure, nonprofit or profit, the question is money and time.”

operating as a nonprofit.

After the cable television entrepreneur H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest bought The Philadelphia Inquirer, he set up a hybrid structure. The paper is run as a for-profit, public benefit corporation, but it belongs to a nonprofit called the Lenfest Institute. The complex structure is meant to maintain editorial independence and maximum flexibility to run as a business while also encouraging philanthropic support.

Of the $7 million that Lenfest gave to supplement The Inquirer’s revenue from subscribers and advertisers in 2020, only $2 million of it came from the institute, while the remaining $5 million came from a broad array of national, local, institutional and independent donors, said Jim Friedlich, executive director and chief executive of Lenfest.

“I think philosophically, we’ve long accepted that we have no museums or opera houses without philanthropic support,” said Ms. Lipinski. “I think journalism deserves the same consideration.”

Mr. Bainum has said he plans to establish a nonprofit group that would buy The Sun and two other Tribune-owned Maryland newspapers if he and Mr. Wyss succeed in their bid.

“These buyers range across the political spectrum, and on the surface have little in common except their wealth,” said Mr. Friedlich. “Each seems to feel that American democracy is sailing through choppy waters, and they’ve decided to buy a newspaper instead of a yacht.”

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Frontier Airlines I.P.O. Signals a Travel Industry Recovery

“We just believe we’ve got more embedded growth, we’ve also got lower costs, and we believe we’ve got a great brand that positions us well in the low-fare space,” Mr. Biffle said.

The airline claims it is unique among low-cost airlines. While Spirit tends to serve more-crowded markets and Allegiant Air less-crowded ones, Frontier is more evenly distributed. The airline said it kept planes moving for more hours every day than most other major airlines and offers some flights only a few days a week, allowing it to serve smaller cities. In addition to Denver, Frontier has a big presence in Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas.

Frontier also claims to be more fuel-efficient than its peers, which it hopes will appeal to environmentally conscious consumers.

The airline earned $251 million in 2019 before losing nearly as much last year. It has about $1 billion in cash or cash equivalents and employs about 5,000 people.

Deregulation of the U.S. airline industry in 1978 paved the way for the growth of low-cost carriers, which tend to operate direct, point-to-point flights, often to secondary airports in major cities — an approach pioneered by Southwest. That strategy makes it easier to put planes and crews to efficient use, allowing the airlines to offer relatively low fares. The more traditional hub-and-spoke model used by American, United and Delta is more expensive to maintain but easier to grow once established.

The ultra-low-cost model is a more recent creation, one that Europe’s Ryanair is often credited with popularizing. Companies that use it are much more aggressive about keeping costs low and maximizing revenue. These airlines tend to use their planes an hour or two more each day than other airlines and tend to cram more and smaller seats into planes. They also charge for lots of services that even many conventional discount airlines include in the ticket price, such as seat selection or printed boarding passes.

But larger airlines are unlikely to easily cede ground to Frontier and its ilk. In March, for example, United, which operates the most flights at the Denver airport, announced plans to add dozens of nonstop flights between small Midwestern cities and a handful of tourist destinations. Even before the pandemic, United and other large airlines were copying ultra-low-cost companies by offering lower fares and charging for more services.

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Swiss Billionaire Joins the Bidding for Tribune Publishing

An octogenarian Swiss billionaire who makes his home in Wyoming and has donated hundreds of millions to environmental causes is a surprise new player in the bidding for Tribune Publishing, the major newspaper chain that until recently seemed destined to end up in the hands of a New York hedge fund.

Hansjörg Wyss (pronounced Hans-yorg Vees), the former chief executive of the medical device manufacturer Synthes, said in an interview on Friday that he had agreed to join with the Maryland hotelier Stewart W. Bainum Jr. in a bid for Tribune Publishing, an offer that could upend Alden Global Capital’s plan to take full ownership of the company.

Mr. Wyss, who has given away some of his fortune to help preserve wildlife habitats in Wyoming, Montana and Maine, said he was motivated to join the Tribune bid by his belief in the need for a robust press. “I have an opportunity to do 500 times more than what I’m doing now,” he said.

Alden, which already owns roughly 32 percent of Tribune Publishing shares, is known for drastically cutting costs at the newspapers it controls through its MediaNews Group subsidiary. Last month, the hedge fund reached an agreement with Tribune, whose papers include The Daily News, The Baltimore Sun and The Chicago Tribune, to buy the rest of the company’s shares at $17.25 apiece.

Choice Hotels International, one of the world’s largest hotel chains, to make a bid on March 16 for all of Tribune, beating Alden’s number with an offer of $18.50 a share.

That bid valued the company at about $650 million. The Alden agreement valued Tribune at roughly $630 million.

Tribune was not swayed by Mr. Bainum’s offer. A securities filing on Tuesday revealed that the company’s board recommended that shareholders approve the Alden bid. At the same time, the Tribune board gave Mr. Bainum the go-ahead to pursue financing for his higher bid.

He has done just that by teaming with Mr. Wyss, who said in the interview that he planned to own the company’s flagship paper while he and Mr. Bainum seek benefactors for Tribune’s seven other metro dailies, which include The Orlando Sentinel and The Hartford Courant.

“He made that bid because he wants The Baltimore Sun,” Mr. Wyss said, referring to Mr. Bainum. “I said, ‘Yeah, that’s fine. And I have to make The Tribune even better than what it is now.’”

the sale of Synthes to Johnson & Johnson for roughly $20 billion. Mr. Wyss and his family — a daughter, Amy, also lives in Wyoming — had the largest stake in Synthes, owning nearly half the shares.

The sale of Tribune, which the newspaper company hopes to conclude by July, requires regulatory approval and yes votes from company shareholders representing two-thirds of the non-Alden stock. The medical entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong, who owns The Los Angeles Times with his wife, Michele B. Chan, has enough Tribune shares to squash the Alden deal by himself. Dr. Soon-Shiong declined to comment on Saturday.

Mr. Wyss said he would be a civic-minded custodian of The Chicago Tribune. “I don’t want to see another newspaper that has a chance to increase the amount of truth being told to the American people going down the drain,” he said.

Alden’s potential acquisition of Tribune has been fiercely opposed by many journalists at Tribune papers. Alden has aggressively cut costs at many MediaNews Group publications, including The Denver Post and The San Jose Mercury News. Critics say the hedge fund sacrifices journalistic quality for greater profits, while Alden argues that it saves papers that would otherwise join the thousands that have gone out of business in the last two decades.

Mr. Wyss, 85, said he was partly inspired to join Mr. Bainum by a New York Times opinion essay last year in which two Chicago Tribune reporters, David Jackson and Gary Marx, warned that an Alden purchase would lead to “a ghost version of The Chicago Tribune — a newspaper that can no longer carry out its essential watchdog mission.” Since that article appeared, both reporters have left the paper.

Mr. Wyss, born in Bern, first visited the United States as an exchange student in 1958, working for the Colorado Highway Department. He was a journalist as a young man, he said, covering skiing for Neue Zürcher Zeitung, a Zurich paper, and filing dispatches on American sports to Der Bund, a Bern paper, when he was studying at Harvard Business School.

He said he believed The Chicago Tribune would prosper under his ownership.

“Maybe I’m naïve,” Mr. Wyss said, “but the combination of giving enough money to a professional staff to do the right things and putting quite a bit of money into digital will eventually make it a very profitable newspaper.”

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Europe’s Vaccine Ethics Call: Do No Harm and Let More Die?

European health agencies this week faced, with millions of lives in the balance, a staggeringly high-stakes incarnation of what ethicists call the trolley problem.

Imagine standing at a railway switch. If you do nothing, a trolley barreling down the track will hit three people in its path. If you pull the lever, the trolley will divert to an alternate track with one person. Which option is morally preferable: deliberately killing one person or passively allowing three to die?

In Europe’s version, German regulators identified seven cases of a rare cerebral blood clot, three of them fatal, out of 1.6 million who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine. Regulators had no proof they were linked, only a statistical anomaly. Still, continuing vaccinations might make them responsible for putting a handful of people in harm’s way — like pulling the lever on the trolley tracks.

Instead, the German authorities withdrew approval for the vaccine starting Monday. Neighboring countries followed, waiting for the European Union drug regulator to deem the vaccine safe, which it did on Thursday.

a third viral wave claiming thousands of lives per day in Europe, even a brief pause seemed all but certain to imperil many more lives than the unproven, very rare side effect.

Still, medical ethics can be tricky. Experts tend to view Europe’s decision as either an understandable, if risky, cost-benefit calculation or, as the Oxford University ethicist Jeff McMahan put it, “a disastrous mistake.”

Dr. McMahan, who studies life-or-death dilemmas, said that the extra Covid deaths likely to occur would “be by omission, or by not doing anything, rather than by causing. But you have to ask, does that make any difference in this context?”

But Ruth Faden, a Johns Hopkins University bioethicist and vaccine policy expert, called the pause “an extremely tough call.”

“If the only thing that mattered was deploying the vaccine in such a way as to reduce severe disease and death as quickly as possible, then you just go ahead,” Dr. Faden said. But it isn’t. While countries that continued vaccinations “probably made the right call,” she said, Germany and others faced real considerations around public trust and ethical duty.

principle calls for pausing any policy that might bring unforeseen harms in order to study those harms before proceeding. Imposing blind risk, however small, on unknowing citizens would be wrong.

But Dr. Persad said that he had “never really been able to make sense of how you would apply that principle in a pandemic.”

For one, even if vaccinations did carry some risk or uncertainty, the risk and uncertainty introduced by withholding them, therefore allowing cases to spread, was surely higher. It was not as if infections paused for bureaucratic process.

For another, vaccinations are voluntary.

“This is not a case where you’re imposing risk on unconsenting people,” Dr. Persad said, and therefore violating the precautionary principle. “You’re allowing people to consensually protect themselves from a big risk by taking a very small one.”

struck by lightning could be considered impermissible under that oath.

“But when the alternative to doing a small amount of harm is allowing a vast amount of harm, then the ‘do no harm’ slogan is a poor guide to policy,” said Dr. McMahan, the Oxford ethicist.

And while “first, do no harm” can feel like an iron law of medical ethics, it is in fact primarily a professional code of conduct. For centuries, it has reflected an inborn human bias that sees affirmatively causing harm as categorically different than passively allowing it.

already high in Europe, especially toward the AstraZeneca shot, on which Europe has built its plans. The proportion of people willing to get the shot has, in some polls, dropped significantly below the 70 percent needed to achieve herd immunity.

“High-profile, vivid events that are really scary have a way of controlling the public imagination,” Dr. Faden said.

Johnson & Johnson with a lower efficacy rate than two-shot variants, health officials hailed its simpler distribution as a breakthrough in the push for herd immunity. Americans have largely gone along.

“We don’t always see it,” Dr. Persad said of these ethical trade-offs, “but it actually comes up all the time.”

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Covid-19 Live Updates: States Aim to Expand Vaccine Eligibility Before Biden’s Deadline

vaccine production and distribution ramp up and more states begin to heed a call from President Biden to expand access to all adults by May.

States are also racing to stay ahead of the growing number of virus variants, some of which are more contagious and possibly even more deadly. At least three states — Maine, Virginia and Wisconsin — and Washington, D.C., have said that they will expand eligibility to their general population by May 1, the deadline that Mr. Biden set last week. At least six other states — including Colorado, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, Montana and Utah — hope to do so this month or next.

In Mississippi and Alaska, everyone age 16 or older is eligible, and Arizona and Michigan have made the vaccines available to all adults in some counties.

Mr. Biden said last week that he was directing the federal government to secure an additional 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. With three vaccines now in use, Mr. Biden has said that the United States will have secured enough doses by the end of May for shots to be available for all adults.


50+ or 55+

60+ or 65+

Eligible only in some counties


Restaurant workers

Eligible only in some counties


High-risk adults

Over a certain age

Eligible only in some counties

Several states have already been expanding eligibility for vaccinations. In Ohio, vaccines will open to anyone 40 and up as of Friday, and to more residents with certain medical conditions. Indiana extended access to people 45 and older, effective immediately.

Coloradans age 50 and up will be eligible for a shot on Friday, along with anyone 16 years and older with certain medical conditions. Wisconsin said on Tuesday that residents 16 years and up with certain medical conditions would be eligible a week earlier than initially planned.

On Monday, Texans age 50 and older and Georgians over 55 became eligible for vaccines.

In New York State, residents 60 and older are eligible to receive a vaccine, and more frontline workers will become eligible on Wednesday, including government employees, building services workers and employees of nonprofit groups. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has yet to announce how or when the state will open eligibility to all adults.

Since vaccinations began in December, the federal government has delivered nearly 143 million vaccine doses to states and territories, and more than 77 percent have been administered, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The country is averaging about 2.4 million shots a day, compared with well under one million a day in January.

As of Tuesday, 65 percent of the country’s older population had received at least one vaccine dose, according to C.D.C. data, with 37 percent fully vaccinated.

Virus-related cases, deaths and hospitalizations are significantly down from the peak levels reported in January. But progress has slowed noticeably since the start of this month, with continued drops in some states offset by persistent outbreaks in other parts of the country, especially the Northeast.

Public health leaders like Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C. director, have warned Americans not to let their guard down prematurely, noting that the amount of new cases remains high, at around 55,000 per day.

Serbia’s largest vaccination center this month at the Belgrade Fair, a sprawling exhibition complex in the Serbian capital.
Credit…Laura Boushnak for The New York Times

Stained for years by its brutal role in the horrific Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, Serbia is now basking in the glow of success in a good campaign: the quest to get its people vaccinated.

Serbia has raced ahead of the far richer and usually better-organized countries in Europe to offer all adult citizens not only free inoculations, but also a smorgasbord of five vaccines to choose from.

The country’s unusual surfeit of vaccines has been a public relations triumph for the increasingly authoritarian government of President Aleksandar Vucic. It has burnished his own and his country’s image, weakened his already beleaguered opponents and added a new twist to the complex geopolitics of vaccines.

Serbia, with a population under seven million, placed bets across the board, sealing initial deals for more than 11 million doses with Russia and China, whose products have not been approved by European regulators, as well as with Western drug companies.

It reached its first vaccine deal, covering 2.2 million doses, with Pfizer in August and quickly followed up with contracts for millions more from Russia and China.

As a result, Serbia has become the best vaccinator in Europe after Britain, data collected by OurWorldInData shows. It had administered 29.5 doses for every 100 people as of last week compared with just 10.5 in Germany, a country long viewed as a model of efficiency and good governance, and 10.7 in France.

Serbia’s prime minister, Ana Brnabic, attributed her country’s success to its decision to “treat this as a health issue, not a political issue. We negotiated with all, regardless of whether East or West.”

Serbia’s readiness to embrace non-Western vaccines so far shunned by the European Union could backfire if they turn out to be duds. Sinopharm, unlike Western vaccine makers, has not published detailed data from Phase 3 trials. Data it has released suggest that its product is less effective than Western coronavirus vaccines.

Many Serbians, apparently reassured by the vaccination drive, have also lowered their guard against the risk of infection. The daily number of new cases has more than doubled since early February, prompting the government to order all businesses other than food stores and pharmacies to close last weekend.

More than 150 million students and educators are using Google Classroom app.
Credit…Friedemann Vogel/EPA, via Shutterstock

After a tough year of toggling between remote and in-person schooling, many students, teachers and their families feel burned out from pandemic learning. But companies that market digital learning tools to schools are enjoying a windfall.

Venture and equity financing for education technology start-ups has more than doubled, surging to $12.6 billion worldwide last year from $4.8 billion in 2019, according to a report from CB Insights, a firm that tracks start-ups and venture capital.

Yet as more districts reopen for in-person instruction, the billions of dollars that schools and venture capitalists have sunk into education technology are about to get tested.

“There’s definitely going to be a shakeout over the next year,” said Matthew Gross, the chief executive of Newsela, a popular reading lesson app for schools.

A number of ed-tech start-ups reporting record growth had sizable school audiences before the pandemic. Then last spring, as school districts switched to remote learning, many education apps hit on a common pandemic growth strategy: They temporarily made their premium services free to teachers for the rest of the school year.

“What unfolded from there was massive adoption,” said Tory Patterson, a managing director at Owl Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in education start-ups like Newsela. Once the school year ended, he said, ed-tech start-ups began trying to convert school districts into paying customers, and “we saw pretty broad-based uptake of those offers.”

Some consumer tech giants that provided free services to schools also reaped benefits, gaining audience share and getting millions of students accustomed to using their product.

The worldwide audience for Google Classroom, Google’s free class assignment and grading app, has skyrocketed to more than 150 million students and educators, up from 40 million early last year. And Zoom Video Communications says it has provided free services during the pandemic to more than 125,000 schools in 25 countries.

Whether tools that teachers have come to rely on for remote learning can maintain their popularity will now hinge on how useful the apps are in the classroom.

GLOBAL ROUNDUP

Casting a ballot at a polling station in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
Credit…Sem Van Der Wal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As Dutch voters go to the polls for parliamentary elections this week, the pandemic has changed the usual dynamic.

To help maintain social distancing, the voting process was spread over three days, ending on Wednesday. Voters over 70 were encouraged to vote by mail. And campaigning mainly took place on television, making it hard for voters to spontaneously confront politicians as is typical practice.

Coronavirus cases are again surging in the Netherlands, prompting the authorities to warn of a third wave. Last year, it took the government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte until November to get the country’s testing capabilities in order, and the vaccination process is also going slowly.

Yet during the campaigning, more localized issues managed to overshadow the government’s handling of the coronavirus.

The prime minister and his cabinet resigned in January over a scandal involving the tax authorities’ hunting down people, mostly poor, who had made administrative mistakes in their child benefits requests. Many were brought to financial ruin as a result.

Broader policies put forward by Mr. Rutte, who has been in power since 2010, were also a focus on the campaign trail. While his party is ahead in the polls, it has lost some support in recent weeks.

Neighboring Germany is also entering a packed election season, with national and state votes coming in a year that will bring to an end the 16-year chancellorship of Angela Merkel.

In other developments around the world:

Andrea Maikovich-Fong, a psychologist in Denver, said she worried about how some clients would adjust as the world begins to reopen.
Credit…Stephen Speranza for The New York Times

When the pandemic narrowed the world, Jonathan Hirshon stopped traveling, eating out, going to cocktail parties and commuting to the office.

What a relief.

Mr. Hirshon experiences severe social anxiety. Even as he grieved the pandemic’s toll, he found lockdown life to be a respite.

Now, with public life about to resume, he finds himself with decidedly mixed feelings — “anticipation, dread and hope.”

Mr. Hirshon, a 54-year-old public relations consultant, is one of numerous people who find the everyday grind not only wearing, but also emotionally unsettling. That includes people with clinical diagnoses of anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, and also some run-of-the-mill introverts.

A new survey from the American Psychological Association found that while 47 percent of people have seen their stress rise over the pandemic, about 43 percent reported no change in stress and 7 percent said they felt less stress.

Mental health experts said that this portion of the population found lockdown measures protective, a sort of permission to glide into more predictable spaces, schedules, routines and relationships. And experts say that while the lockdown periods have blessed the “avoidance” of social situations, the circumstances are poised to change.

“I am very worried about many of my socially anxious patients,” said Andrea Maikovich-Fong, a psychologist in Denver. That anxiety, she said, “is going to come back with a vengeance when the world opens up.”

A protest over masks and Covid vaccines outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta on Saturday.
Credit…Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Former President Donald J. Trump recommended in a nationally televised interview on Tuesday evening that Americans who are reluctant to be vaccinated against the coronavirus should go ahead with inoculations.

Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania, were vaccinated in January. And vaccine proponents have called on him to speak out in favor of the shots to his supporters — many of whom remain reluctant, polls show.

Speaking to Maria Bartiromo on “Fox News Primetime,” Mr. Trump said, “I would recommend it, and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it — and a lot of those people voted for me frankly.”

He added: “It is a safe vaccine, and it is something that works.”

While there are degrees of opposition to coronavirus vaccination among a number of groups, polling suggests that the opinions break substantially along partisan lines.

A third of Republicans said in a CBS News poll that they would not be vaccinated — compared with 10 percent of Democrats — and another 20 percent of Republicans said they were unsure. Other polls have found similar trends.

Mr. Trump encouraged attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla., late last month to get vaccinated.

Still, Mr. Trump — whose tenure during the pandemic was often marked by railing against recommendations from medical experts — said on Tuesday that “we have our freedoms and we have to live by that, and I agree with that also.”

With President Biden’s administration readying television and internet advertising and other efforts to promote vaccination, the challenge for the White House is complicated by perceptions of Mr. Trump’s stance on the vaccine.

Asked about the issue on Monday at the White House, Mr. Biden said Mr. Trump’s help promoting vaccination was less important than getting trusted community figures on board.

“I discussed it with my team, and they say the thing that has more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA folks is what the local doctor, what the local preachers, what the local people in the community say,” Mr. Biden said, referring to Mr. Trump’s supporters and campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.”

Grace Sundstrom, a senior in Des Moines, wrote her college essay about correspondence she had with Alden, a nursing home resident.
Credit…via Grace Sundstrom

This year perhaps more than ever, the college essay has served as a canvas for high school seniors to reflect on a turbulent and, for many, sorrowful year. It has been a psychiatrist’s couch, a road map to a more hopeful future, a chance to pour out intimate feelings about loneliness and injustice.

In response to a request from The New York Times, more than 900 seniors submitted the personal essays they wrote for their college applications. Reading them is like a taking a trip through two of the biggest news events of recent decades: the devastation wrought by the coronavirus, and the rise of a new civil rights movement.

In the wake of the high-profile deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police officers, students shared how they had wrestled with racism in their own lives. Many dipped their feet into the politics of protest.

And in the midst of the most far-reaching pandemic in a century, they described the isolation and loss that have pervaded every aspect of their lives since schools suddenly shut down a year ago. They sought to articulate how they have managed while cut off from friends and activities.

The coronavirus was the most common theme in the essays submitted to The Times, appearing in 393 essays, more than 40 percent. Next was the value of family, coming up in 351 essays, but often in the context of other issues, like the pandemic and race. Racial justice and protest figured in 342 essays.

Family was not the only eternal verity to appear. Love came up in 286 essays; science in 128; art in 110; music in 109; and honor in 32. Personal tragedy also loomed large, with 30 essays about cancer alone.

Some students resisted the lure of current events and wrote quirky essays about captaining a fishing boat on Cape Cod or hosting dinner parties. A few wrote poetry. Perhaps surprisingly, politics and the 2020 election were not of great interest.

After his wife died from Covid-19 complications, John Lancos joined social media groups that offered support for people who had lost loved ones in the pandemic.
Credit…Desiree Rios for The New York Times

Pamela Addison is, in her own words, “one of the shyest people in this world.” Certainly not the sort of person who would submit an opinion essay to a newspaper, start a support group for strangers or ask a U.S. senator to vote for $1.9 trillion legislation.

But in the past five months, she has done all of those things.

Her husband, Martin Addison, a 44-year-old health care worker in New Jersey, died from the coronavirus in April after a month of illness. The last time she saw him was when he was loaded into an ambulance. At 37, Ms. Addison was left to care for a 2-year-old daughter and an infant son, and to make ends meet on her own.

“Seeing the impact my story has had on people — it has been very therapeutic and healing for me,” she said. “And knowing that I’m doing it to honor my husband gives me the greatest joy, because I’m doing it for him.”

With the United States’ coronavirus death toll — over 530,000 people — come thousands of stories like hers. Many people who have lost loved ones, or whose lives have been upended by long-haul symptoms, have turned to political action.

There are Marjorie Roberts, who got sick while managing a hospital gift shop in Atlanta and now has lung scarring; Mary Wilson-Snipes, still on oxygen more than two months after coming home from the hospital; and John Lancos, who lost his wife of 41 years on April 23.

In January, they and dozens of others participated in an advocacy training session over Zoom, run by a group called Covid Survivors for Change. This month, the group organized virtual meetings with the offices of 16 senators, and more than 50 group members lobbied for the coronavirus relief package.

The immediate purpose of the training session was to teach people how to do things like lobby a senator. The longer-term purpose was to confront the problem of numbers.

Numbers are dehumanizing, as activists like to say. In sufficient quantities — 535,227, for instance — they are also numbing. This is why converting numbers into people is so often the job of activists seeking policy change after tragedy.

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For some with social anxiety, lockdowns brought an element of relief. That’s about to change.

When the pandemic narrowed the world, Jonathan Hirshon stopped traveling, eating out, going to cocktail parties and commuting to the office.

What a relief.

Mr. Hirshon experiences severe social anxiety. Even as he grieved the pandemic’s toll, he found lockdown life to be a respite.

Now, with public life about to resume, he finds himself with decidedly mixed feelings — “anticipation, dread and hope.”

Mr. Hirshon, a 54-year-old public relations consultant, is one of numerous people who find the everyday grind not only wearing, but also emotionally unsettling. That includes people with clinical diagnoses of anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, and also some run-of-the-mill introverts.

A new survey from the American Psychological Association found that while 47 percent of people have seen their stress rise over the pandemic, about 43 percent reported no change in stress and 7 percent said they felt less stress.

Mental health experts said that this portion of the population found lockdown measures protective, a sort of permission to glide into more predictable spaces, schedules, routines and relationships. And experts say that while the lockdown periods have blessed the “avoidance” of social situations, the circumstances are poised to change.

“I am very worried about many of my socially anxious patients,” said Andrea Maikovich-Fong, a psychologist in Denver. That anxiety, she said, “is going to come back with a vengeance when the world opens up.”

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New Suitor May Enter Fray for Tribune Publishing

A deal that would reshape the American newspaper industry has run into complications just one month after an agreement was reached, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. As a result, the New York hedge fund Alden Global Capital may have to fend off a new suitor for Tribune Publishing, the chain that owns major metropolitan dailies across the country, including The Chicago Tribune, The Daily News and The Baltimore Sun, the people said.

On Feb. 16, Alden, the largest shareholder in Tribune Publishing, with a 32 percent stake, reached an agreement to buy the rest of the chain in a deal that valued the company at $630 million. In the deal, Alden would take ownership of all the Tribune Publishing papers — and then spin off The Sun and two smaller Maryland papers at a price of $65 million to a nonprofit organization controlled by the Maryland hotel magnate Stewart W. Bainum Jr.

In recent days, Mr. Bainum and Alden have found themselves at loggerheads over details of the operating agreements that would be in effect as the Maryland papers transitioned from one owner to another, the people said. In response, Mr. Bainum has taken a preliminary step toward making a bid for all of Tribune Publishing, the people said.

Mr. Bainum has asked the Tribune Publishing special committee, a group made up of three independent board members, for permission to be released from a nondisclosure agreement prohibiting him from discussing the deal, so that he would be able to pursue partners for a new bid, the people said.

sale of a majority-owned subsidiary for $160 million.

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Powerful snow storm with high winds headed toward western US

A powerful spring snow storm was expected over the next three days to blanket parts of the US Rockies and central high plains where forecasters warned of whiteout conditions, power outages and avalanches.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued blizzard warnings for parts of Wyoming and western Nebraska, where quickly accumulating snowfall of up to 2ft (61cm) and fierce winds reaching 65mph (105km per hour) could cause dangerous conditions from Saturday through Monday.

The weather service told travelers who must be on the road to carry emergency supplies and flashlights. It also warned that strong winds and the heavy snow could cause extensive damage to trees and power lines.

“We’re preparing for a potentially historic winter storm to impact south-east Wyoming,” Mark Gordon, Wyoming’s governor, said on Twitter. “The best option is to stay off the roads this weekend.”

To the south in Colorado, conditions were forecast to deteriorate throughout the day on Saturday. The I-25 urban corridor, where five million people live in cities such as Denver, was expected to get 2ft of snow and 35mph winds throughout the weekend.

In Denver, rain turned to snow late Saturday morning as temperatures dropped to near freezing. A drier air pattern moving over the city in the afternoon temporarily slowed the rate of snowfall, the NWS said on Twitter.

“However, more intense snow will return by late afternoon/early evening and into Sunday,” the weather service said.

At Denver International Airport, 1,979 weekend flights in and out of the nation’s fifth busiest airport were cancelled ahead of the storm, according to aviation tracking web site Flight Aware.

Utility company Xcel Energy said this week that it was “ramping up the number of crews” to respond to any possible power outages caused by the heavy, wet snow.

The NWS warned travelers and skiers in higher elevations that avalanches could be easily triggered as snow totals could rapidly accumulate, while Jared Polis, Colorado’s governor, activated the state’s National Guard to respond to search and rescue requests over the weekend.

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