Thursday, April 25, 2024

2020 Most-read stories on

Staff Writer | December 27, 2020 1:20 AM

Pandemic, protests, planes crashing - and mashed potatoes for your Thanksgiving pleasure.

What a year it's been.

Near the end of each December, The Press dives into digital data to see which articles that year attracted the most eyeballs. Usually, the worse the news, the more eyeballs - somewhat in contrast to what many print subscribers say they want to read.

But news, like something unsavory that starts with an "s," happens. And in 2020, it happened a lot.

According to Google analytics, The Press website and app generated 12,687,526 unique page views through Dec. 23. From that massive sum, these are the 10 most-read articles.

Later this week we'll explore the Top 10 local topics for the year.

1. June 2 - Armed 'Patriots' patrol Coeur d'Alene.

While sometimes-violent protests were breaking out across America, a small army of heavily armed citizens responded locally, mostly packing into corridors of downtown Coeur d'Alene.

“I heard there are some people on the way who shouldn’t be here,”

Dan Carson told reporter Bill Buley that evening. Carson was packing an AR-12 across his chest, an AR-15 strapped to his back, two 9mm handguns holstered and a .38 special, too.

Carson said he supports the right to protest and was also upset about the death of George Floyd, which triggered the national unrest.

“By all means, I’m on their side. I disagree with what happened,” he said. “What I don’t agree with is when you turn to violence, and you start rioting and destroying businesses and hurting people who have nothing

to do with anything.

“That’s what I’m here to hopefully prevent. I’m not going to be alone. There’s a lot more on the way.”

The rumors of militants being en route proved unfounded, but the region was gripped for several days by the protests that ultimately proved peaceful.

2. Nov. 17 - Walmart covering the cost of Thanksgiving

Apparently, it's hard to beat Walmart and free stuff when it comes to those living in the digital information sphere. was one of the first news outlets to report that, with a digital string attached, Walmart was giving away Thanksgiving feast stuff at no charge.

The article by Craig Northrup detailed how all 4,700-plus Walmarts would reimburse customers for the cost of specific purchases, including Campbell's cream of mushroom soup, a big bottle of Coke, a 3-pound Butterball turkey roast, turkey gravy, stuffing, green beans, crispy onions, cranberry sauce - and of course, Idahoan instant mashed taters.

The deal was made possible through a digital partnership with Ibotta.

3. April 23 - Little re-opening starts May 1

The news broke on the Press website and the next-day banner headline in The Press read, Re-opening Idaho: Governor unveils plan in two-week stages.

That chunk of good news was eagerly consumed by readers who had been feeling the shattering impacts of COVID-19 for weeks.

“We have reached a prolonged downward decline in new and severe cases [because of those] working to flatten the curve,” Little said in the article reported by Craig Northrup.

The governor outlined his plan to open the state back up in two-week stages until most of the state would be open by the end of June - a target the governor and Idahoans hit together.

Little started by re-opening church gatherings so long as they adhered

to strict physical distancing, sanitation protocols and other guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control.

4. March 19 - First COVID-19 case in Kootenai County

The patient who first brought home the global pandemic to Kootenai County was identified as a man over 60 with an extensive travel history.

According to the article by Bill Buley, the man was self-isolating in another state while experiencing mild symptoms.

Kootenai County's first case was the 12th reported in the state - until the south central health district reported 12 new cases of its own late that day.

“There is no need to panic,” said Panhandle Health District director Lora Whalen said. “Now more than ever, it is time for each of us to consider our part, what role we play in stopping the threat of this virus in our community.”

5. Jan. 22 - Golden Corral closes its Coeur d'Alene doors

Stop the presses! When it comes to our bellies, closure of a favored buffet is pretty damned big news. And this one caused more than a little gastrointestinal distress based on the number of readers who filled their plates with the sad news of its closure.

The article no doubt got a belt-busting boost by Press Facebook page link that ended up reaching 78,261 people with 20,594 engagements and 343 comments.

And maybe a burp or two.

6. June 14 - History Corner - The Acadians' 400-year journey

Who says history is dead? Not when Syd Albright is writing about it, it's not.

Albright, a former UCLA instructor who pens his popular History Corner columns for every Press Sunday edition, struck digital gold with his tale of the Acadians' venture to the Cajun Bayous of Louisiana after they were virtually unwanted elsewhere.

Albright's engaging writing style and exhaustive research through photo archives has made has made his forays into the past must-read material for Press subscribers - and apparently, for digital readers, as well.

Albright, of Post Falls, now leads his History Club every Wednesday morning at IHOP on Fourth Street. Interested in attending? Contact Syd at:

7. July 21 - Kootenai Health ICU at capacity

Putting the pandemic in local perspective, this article drove home the reality that the virus is real and that it was creating an untenable treatment plan at North Idaho's largest hospital.

The sub-headline also spotlighted a political reality: Hospitalizations rise to 19; mayors say they don’t support issuing mask mandate

Yes, you read that right. Hospitalizations before Kootenai Health created its COVID-19 unit were restricted to the ICU, which could handle fewer than 20 patients. Now, COVID patient counts around 100 are stressing the hospital more than the July ICU crisis.

In the article, KH spokesperson Kim Anderson wrote to area mayors:

“We are increasingly concerned that without a community-wide masking mandate, our health care community (and eventually our businesses and schools) will soon be in an impossible situation.”

She wrote that longterm care facilities are refusing to accept COVID-19 patients because they do not want the disease to spread to other residents. Because patients cannot be discharged without a plan for continuing care, without a place that will accept them, “we cannot discharge these patients so their bed can be used for someone who requires hospitalization.”

Sound familiar? Yet the beat goes on.

8. July 6 - Two dead, others missing after planes crash

On a gorgeous Sunday summer afternoon, tragedy rocked the community when two planes collided over Lake Coeur d'Alene. The planes were located in 127 feet of water by the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office sonar team, and the results were heartbreaking: Eight dead, including beloved local pilot Neil Lunt and three children.

The crash had involved a Brooks Seaplane charter piloted by owner Lunt and carrying five passengers, and a Cessna with pilot and one passenger that had taken off from Felts Field in Spokane.

Witnesses described a fireball in the sky before both planes crashed into the water between Powderhorn Bay and Black Bay and sank quickly.

9. Rathdrum man accused of stabbing mother

According to police, an 18-year-old admitted to stabbing his mother multiple times with a kitchen knife, believing he left her for dead.

While the suspect faces a substantial prison sentence if convicted on two counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, the mother reportedly has recovered.

10. June 16 - It's better to give than to receive

If you don't believe it, then you really should read this article. Its headline pretty much told the story: Prize car gifted twice.

Bill Buley's opening then filled in the blanks.

"With a turn of a key, Brian Hansen won a 2019 Chevrolet Trax on Thursday night at Knudtsen Chevrolet.

"A minute later, the 2020 Post Falls High School graduate gave it away.

"And the crowd of about 100 was a mix of stunned and admiring."

For years, Eve Knudtsen & Co. have been giving away a new car to one of a handful of outstanding local high school graduates. Long story short, young Mr. Hansen had noticed that Timberlake High grad Amy Palmer had simply not followed completely through on her attempt at the car, so the better part of honesty and valor won out - and Amy drove away in the $26,000 SUV.

“My faith in a younger generation is so restored,” Knudtsen said. “I think those parents in Post Falls are definitely doing something right.”

There now. How's that for a happy ending to the story of 2020?



Painting “The Deportation of Acadians” by Henri Beau, the event taking place in 1755 in Nova Scotia.



Brian Hansen hands Amy Palmer the key to the 2019 Chevy Trax right after he won it at Knudtsen Chevrolet in Post Falls.