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Calendar complexion, Feb. 27, 2006

We were real proud of our Horizons edition that finished publishing Sunday with our sections on Volunteers and our Citizen of the Year.

Another little added bonus in the Sunday package was our Suffolk Snapshots calendar. We appreciate the advertisers who helped make Horizons possible.

I was also proud of the work that our advertising, news and composing staffs did in getting the project done. It’s a Herculean effort for a small paper like the News-Herald to produce something like Horizons. We typically start work in October for February publication.

There was one faux pas, though, I will have to take the rap for it.

We were behind schedule and I was putting the editorial material in the calendar, which consisted of a photo for each month. I went through tons of disks looking for photographs we had published during the year that were representative of each month.

I was hoping to pull all landscape shots, but could not find any for three or four months so had to use photos with people in them.

Unbeknownst to me, or anyone else apparently who looked at the calendar before it went to the printer, the people who were in the photos were all white. Suffolk black population, which I think is between 40 and 50 percent of our total, was unrepresented in the pages.

A couple of readers let me hear about it on Monday, and all I can say is they were correct. I was neglectful is failing to take their feelings into consideration and hope we can do a better job on it next year.

Really, though, it’s tough to win. We don’t have time to sit here and count faces in the paper during the course of the day. In fact, most of the calls I receive of that nature are from white people who claim to be upset about all the photos of black people in the paper.

I’ve heard it used to be verboten as recently as just before I got into the business at some small newspapers to put any photos of black people in the paper. An editor at a newspaper in Kentucky where I worked briefly told me about a time in the mid-1970s when her redneck publisher literally chased her through the paper screaming at her for running a photo of black child on the front page.

I took a week’s worth of papers at random today and flipped through them and it appeared to be balanced in the number of black and white faces published in photos and I imagine most weeks would look the same.

Nonetheless, it’s something I intend to try to pay a little more attention to moving forward.