Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden visits the Lancaster Recreation Commission to talk about access to affordable health care during a campaign stop Thursday, June 25, 2020, in Lancaster.

Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for president, was in Lancaster city Thursday to meet with three families and discuss the Affordable Care Act. Biden also met briefly with Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace and Lancaster city Council President Ismail Smith-Wade-El to discuss “housing, racial justice and community development block grants,” LNP | LancasterOnline’s Gillian McGoldrick reported.

But no one from LNP | LancasterOnline, including McGoldrick, had access inside the event.

National media and an Associated Press pool reporter were able to cover the event. A local television station and — inexplicably — a Pittsburgh radio station CBS affiliate were allowed in late. But not the local newspaper journalists, who politely and repeatedly asked for access but were told they couldn’t enter because of “space restrictions.”

Biden was talking with Lancaster County people that LNP | LancasterOnline covers every day of the year. LNP | LancasterOnline journalists should have been permitted to cover Biden’s discussion.

The COVID-19 health crisis is no excuse. LNP | LancasterOnline has covered the pandemic extensively and thoughtfully. Our professional reporters all follow masking and social distancing guidelines and could have easily done their jobs without risk to anyone.

Local newspapers are more essential than ever. Newspapers offer perspective that other forms of media cannot, and their reporters become experts about the communities they cover.

By shutting LNP | LancasterOnline out of an important community health discussion held here Thursday, the Biden campaign sent the wrong message about the importance of local newspaper journalism to the very communities it is trying to reach during the presidential campaign.

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