Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now

COVID-19

This column reflects the opinion of the writer. To learn about the differences between a news story and an opinion column, click here.

Opinion >  Column

Rob Curley: What do COVID-19, content moves, a castle proposal and newspaper carriers have in common? They’re all in this column and brought to you by the letter C

Coloring contest winners are seen hanging in The Spokesman-Review's lobby in downtown Spokane. (Mary Beth Donelan / The Spokesman-Review)
Coloring contest winners are seen hanging in The Spokesman-Review's lobby in downtown Spokane. (Mary Beth Donelan / The Spokesman-Review)

I don’t normally write a three-dot column – which is newspaper slang for a column that talks about mostly unrelated things separated by a whole bunch of ellipses – but we have a lot of ground to cover today. As they used to say at Disneyland before the Mouse House’s coronavirus closure, please pull on that yellow strap to make sure your seat restraints are secured properly and hold on tightly.

Let’s start with something fun …

We were all a little unsure what might happen with our annual Easter egg coloring contest with everyone at home. A fair amount of elementary schools often have younger students enter.

Hailey Colyar, 11, Spokane
Hailey Colyar, 11, Spokane

There was no need to worry. We had hundreds of entries. You can see the winners in the Today section, which really should be called the A&E section, because that’s what it is. But you know what I mean and where to find these.

More important, if you’re out walking in a correct social-distancing manner and find yourself downtown, you should walk by The Spokesman-Review’s building. Why? We’ve covered the entryway windows with a whole bunch of the entries. It’s instant happiness.

But you might need to go see this fairly quickly. We didn’t ask our bosses/landlords if this was OK, which has pretty much become the modus operandi around here while fewer people are paying attention to the home office. Still, the people who run this joint are subscribers, so they might know now if they are reading this …

Do you remember that couple who proposed in our building’s tower in late December of last year?

After an elaborate setup that seemed like it was either out of one of the old “Cannonball Run” or possibly one of the “National Treasure” movies, Travis Christensen proposed to his longtime girlfriend Kendra Buell in The Spokesman-Review’s turret. It was so cool that we even ran a story about in our newspaper.

Well, they got married on Friday afternoon. On Zoom – the video-conferencing software that has basically become a household name since we’ve all been coronally confined. We were totally invited.

Travis Christensen, who proposed to his longtime girlfriend Kendra Buell in The Spokesman-Review’s clock tower on Dec. 30, married her in a ceremony attended by friends and family via Zoom on Friday afternoon. (Don Chareunsy / The Spokesman-Review)
Travis Christensen, who proposed to his longtime girlfriend Kendra Buell in The Spokesman-Review’s clock tower on Dec. 30, married her in a ceremony attended by friends and family via Zoom on Friday afternoon. (Don Chareunsy / The Spokesman-Review)

It was everything you would hope it would be, including one of the people who was watching live at home letting out an encouraging holler during the big kiss and then the Zoom software immediately switching from the smooch to that person – causing the big kiss to be missed.

Still, it was fun to see a very creative couple find a very creative way to keep all of the current madness from causing them to delay their nuptials …

We had no idea how the announcement last week about the havoc COVID-19 has wreaked on newspapers across the country and about how it has been felt here in Spokane, causing The Spokesman-Review to suspend its Saturday print edition later this month, would be received. (If you missed those details, you can read about what will happen in letters from publisher Stacey Cowles and me on page 8 of today’s newspaper.)

Of course, there were readers who were disappointed and angry, but no angrier or more disappointed than we were. The newspaper industry was a tough enough business before this virus made things far worse.

But it was far more heartwarming to see the incredible amount of positive notes we received. Hundreds and hundreds. All sharing how much they love this newspaper and how they were even more grateful that we not only were going to continue to publish – some newspapers have already closed while others have moved to print as few as just two times a week – but also that we weren’t going to lose any journalists from our newsroom.

At such a horrible time, we can’t even begin to thank you all for those notes. We even considered running some in today’s paper, and we still might before this is all over.

Still, others were more practical. Though we made clear we are not going to cut the number of stories, photos, pages and especially puzzles we publish each week, there were still some details others wanted cleared up:

  • The Family section will move to Monday’s newspaper.
  • The Arts, Business & Opinion, Northwest and Sports sections all will expand on Sunday to include stories and photos that would have originally been in the Saturday newspaper.
  • The Saturday TV listings will be moved to the Friday newspaper, appearing in the Seven section.
  • All comics and puzzles from the Saturday paper will move to the Sunday newspaper, and even more puzzles are being added to that day.
  • Those who receive the expanded TV listings guide will now receive that on Sunday.
  • Subscribers to the Wall Street Journal, which is delivered by The Spokesman-Review, will now receive the Saturday WSJ on Sunday.
  • Classifieds, including real estate open houses and the autos section, will move from Saturday to Friday.
  • For subscribers who have activated their digital accounts, we will continue to publish a Saturday e-edition of our newspaper.

There will be other additions to the print editions as our way of saying thank you to all of you. Our newsroom works so hard to keep you all informed, and your support means more than you can possibly know …

Every other day or so, we get an email or a phone call asking if COVID-19 can be transmitted by our newspaper. I tried to address this in an earlier column, but some still wanted more convincing.

Well, here it is.

The International News Media Association recently dug into this topic deeper than stories by us, the New York Times, Washington Post and nearly every newspaper on the planet has. The CDC and WHO have now confirmed that with more than 1.7 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, there has never been an incident whereby the COVID-19 virus has been transmitted from a print newspaper, print magazine, print letter or print package.

There you have it. According to the world’s top doctors and scientists, it simply hasn’t happened. Not even once. As in never.

The reasons for this were outlined in my earlier column, the biggest being that the porous nature of paper, and especially the porous nature of newsprint, simply isn’t conducive to the virus’ survival.

You are not going to catch COVID-19 from your newspaper or your newspaper carrier.

But if you still have paranoia about your paper, you can easily switch to the e-edition of our paper. Then no one has touched it except you.

And if you do that, you’ll still get a Saturday newspaper …

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.