These aren’t normal times. Not for you, not for our newspaper.

Most of our stories for the past week or so have focused on the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. It has been a long time since we’ve seen the kind of disruption and fear this has caused. We wanted to make sure readers understand a little bit about how we’re approaching things.

Major events or updates are being flagged on our website as breaking news stories. Breaking news is exempt from the metering, so people can see those stories regardless of whether they’re subscribers. When you see a breaking news story on our website, you’ll be able to read it.

There’s a balance we’re trying to strike with that. Anyone who turns on the television knows how cable news channels are addicted to the idea of breaking news. We’re not. We’re using that term for genuinely big issues that need to get out to the public as fast and as widely as possible. We’re not going to waste your time and make you figure out whether something is worth reading right now. If we mark it as breaking, we believe it is.

Our staff has been working hard to cover the diverse changes this outbreak has brought. With sports effectively shut down, the Courier’s sports reporters are lending a hand to news coverage. They’ve been a valuable addition to that coverage, bringing their own expertise and contacts to help.

Our focus is on making sure our stories come from credible, reliable sources. In many cases that means health or government officials who can speak directly to the issue at hand. When a new development like the student meals program comes up or there’s a question about public safety, the message needs to be clear and understandable for everyone.

But we’re also asking people about how this outbreak is changing their lives. Farmers are getting ready for planting season, and the crops don’t really care about much other than being in the ground at the right time. And, in a situation in which people would often turn to faith as a means of raising their spirits, we’ve interviewed people about how the ban on large gatherings is affecting them.

We have a rolling list of cancellations. If you or your organization have something to add, please email it to news@ottumwacourier.com.

And we hope you’ve seen the value in what we are doing. Our reporters and staff serve the community, but we can’t do it without the community’s help and support. We hope you’ll consider becoming a subscriber if you’re not one already.

Print and digital subscriptions start at $16.99 per month. That’s about 54 cents per day. Digital access is $14.99 per month, or about 48 cents per day. There’s a good chance you usually spend more per day on coffee or soda, and neither of those bring you news about your community or our award-winning editorials.

These aren’t normal times. But they are times in which getting news you can trust is critically important. That’s our goal. That’s what we do.

And we’re going to keep doing it.

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