Reader: Really sorry you have to field complaints and listen to rants on the phone. Berating the bearer of bad news, well, I suppose it’s just life’s blood to some, at least those who only want to hear and read and see that which reinforces and validates their beliefs.
I listen to callers on "Washington Journal" now and then, and (Monday) morning, one woman wholeheartedly questioned the reality of COVID-19, asking how in the world she could trust the published numbers of cases and deaths. I doubt she would believe video of EDs and ICUs, or personal testimony from first responders and families of the victims, or the victims themselves. Marching her past the corpses in refrigerated trucks would probably strike her as an elaborately staged ploy. I couldn’t help but remember something Bob Price wrote to an especially caustic complainer: “I can’t imagine what it must be like to be you.”
Your style is different. You’re so nice. So patient. It must be difficult. So, I’ll just say that the majority of us appreciate the messenger, whether or not we’re pleased with the message.
On another note — because it’s all about the comics — why are all but "Over the Hedge" void of coronavirus quarantine mention? "Pearls Before Swine" caught up this morning, but that’s about it. I realize strips are produced in advance (weeks? months?) but this seems like fertile territory for great storylines. It feels like we’ve been stuck indoors for years, so they must surely be able to catch up. "Pickles," "Zits," "Baby Blues," "Take It From the Tinkersons," "Real Life Adventures," and even "Blondie," seem to have missed a great opportunity.
Realize there’s not a thing you can do about that. Just curious.
— Stay nice (not too nice) and be safe, Pamela Wildermuth
Peterson: I try to be nice. But my patience is sometimes tested, that's for sure!
Readers are asking lots of questions about our coronavirus coverage, and offering via calls and email good story ideas to pursue. Thanks for those; please keep them coming.
I like your comics question — something different!
So I asked Tea Fougner, editorial director for comics at King Features, which provides several of our comics. (You can see which entity provides each comic strip if you read the really fine print on each comic.) Here's what Tea kindly took the time to send:
"While your paper does an amazing job of delivering daily news to you as quickly as possible, the comics you read are usually finished anywhere from five weeks to six months in advance, and printed up to a month in advance. This means that the comics you are seeing now were completed, and maybe even printed, before many people were adapting to a new world of social distancing and remote work and school.
"When states and counties first started adopting shelter-in-place orders, we invited our cartoonists to replace any comics that felt insensitive to them given new rules about gatherings or postponed events, and many did. You’ll be seeing some more comics about the impact of COVID-19 in the coming weeks, while other comics will be more 'business as usual.'
"Some cartoonists have been featuring elements of remote work, social distancing, mask-wearing, and other changes to daily life in their upcoming comics, while others decided they preferred not to tell jokes about a serious crisis as they feel comics should be a lighthearted escape for readers.
"It’s important to us, especially in times like these, to make sure that there are comics that will appeal to every reader, whether they want to see this moment in history addressed in the comics section or would prefer for that to be left to the news sections of their paper. We are also working more closely with newspaper editors to make sure the comics and puzzles in their papers are right for their communities, so please contact your editor if there is something you would like to see more of!"
Tea hit the main points. I'll just add that our Monday through Saturday comics are printed daily with the rest of the paper, and our Sunday Comics section prints a week in advance of its publication date.
Reader: My favorite column is Sound Off and you, Ms. Peterson, are doing an excellent job. Your response to anonymous was spot on. You reminded anonymous that Mr. Trump is not the first president to tackle a never-before-seen experience. From anonymous’ letter, one would think she is defending Trump.
However, her very letter makes the presumption that the president is not capable of handling many difficult tasks at once. Personally, I would only elect a candidate that is qualified to stand up to any unforeseen disaster.
While anonymous believed their response was defending the president, in my opinion, it is insulting. To quote President Truman, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."
— Jacqlynn Walters
Peterson: It seems that no matter one's politics, there's a lot of heat in the kitchen right now.
That's hugely apparent in one of our local "kitchens," our online story comments, where some people are taking this opportunity to really go after each other. There's not a lot of constructive back-and-forth going on there right now. It's too bad.
Reader: As evidence that journalism matters, and influences: Every time I waste even just a drop of water, I think of Lois Henry, and can sense the guilt of her disappointment.
— No name left
Peterson: I can picture Lois grinning when she sees this comment. We're glad to publish important water news from Lois Henry and SJV Water, an independent, nonprofit news site.