Cases of COVID-19 are surging locally and like many other businesses, the Wallowa County Chieftain is constantly evaluating and assessing risk for our employees. We are keeping the risk as low as we can, but we know that we could be just one COVID-19 infection away from having to close our building to keep people safe.

Like all newspapers, we have a number of different departments that operate independently, yet all of them must be functioning and coordinating to produce the desired end product. In our case, we really have two end products: a print newspaper, and online, or digital, news.

Our newsroom’s mission is altruistic. Our professional journalists are focused on delivering high-quality local news to keep our readers informed. This includes reporters, editors and designers who can easily socially distance and yet get their jobs done.

Our advertising and circulation staff — who operate independently from our newsroom — bring in revenue from ads and subscriptions, which is what keeps our business going. They too, can work from home or offices at a safe distance from others.

Our production crew — who operate in Pendleton at the East Oregonian, our highly specialized printing press and mailroom equipment — produce the print newspaper and get it to the post office for delivery. These folks must come into our building every day, and don’t have the luxury of having their own offices. They sometimes work shoulder-to-shoulder.

If anyone in our pressroom or mailroom is hit by the COVID-19 virus, that means we will have gaps in positions that require very specific knowledge and skill. We can’t go out onto the street and hire just anyone to help run our press.

That’s why it is important for all our readers who are dedicated to the print newspaper to seriously consider accessing your newspaper via the Chieftain website online, or to use either the Chieftain news app or e-edition app. Those platforms allow us to post the news as it comes — and this won’t stop even if we are not about to produce a print newspaper. These options are free to our subscribers and getting set up is easy — our office staff is happy to assist getting you signed up.

We fully intend to continue to ensure the print edition of the Wallowa County Chieftain gets to your house every week. That’s why we are taking methodical precautions to make sure our employees remain healthy and safe.

But if you are signed up for our daily email newsletters and are registered for our website or one of our free apps, you won’t miss out on local news if the worst-case scenario hits us. Call our customer service line, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for assistance: 1-800-781-3214.


Andrew Cutler is the editor of the

Wallowa County Chieftain.

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