NYT: The Last Reporter in Town Had One Big Question for His Rich Boss


POTTSTOWN, Pa. — An essential worker drove his cluttered Toyota Corolla through the early spring emptiness, past a sign outside a closed parochial school asking people to pray. Time to bear witness in a pandemic.

He pulled up to the closed Lower Pottsgrove Elementary School, where masked employees were distributing bags and boxes of food. Dozens of cars waited in line for curbside pickup, many with children eager to spot their teachers.

In the global context of the coronavirus, the moment was small. But to those who live around a Pennsylvania place called Pottstown, the scene reflected both the dependence on subsidized school meals and the yearning to connect in an unsettling time of isolation. It was a story.

Evan Brandt, proud reporter for a once-proud newspaper — The Mercury — emerged from his Toyota with press identification dangling from his neck, the photo old enough to be of someone else. The newspaper’s last staff photographer left years ago, and Mr. Brandt, grayer and heavier at 55, had not updated his image.