First, I would like to say I’m sorry, I messed up, it wasn’t intentional, and I will try to never, ever, ever do it again.
As one year ends and another begins, the Herald and News has a traditional feature in which we ask community leaders about their reflections on the previous year, predictions, and priorities for the coming year. This year’s “Klamath Perspectives: Looking Forward — Looking Back” published Jan. 1.
Except this year, there was a glaring omission.
In the front page gallery of comments and photos of community leaders — no women were included.
How does something like this happen?
The complete abandonment — all safeties off during a hectic time — of a fool-proof work tool: the list.
I have had the privilege of working for the Herald and News — and I am proud to say, with some very talented journalists — for the last 29 years. For the last six years, in the role of assistant editor, I’ve moderated the list for the “Klamath Perspectives” feature. This list helps us keep track of who the reporters are polling. It assures we choose a variety of people from year-to-year, and that both male AND female leaders in our community are included from different backgrounds and perspectives.
So why the complete face plant this year?
The Herald and News is in a time of transition. In September, our managing editor of six years, Gerry O’Brien, as well as our evening copy desk editor, said farewell to the H&N as they moved on to the next great learning curve in their lives. We’re continuing our search for our next editor, and in the interim, I’ve been trying my darndest to fill in.
As the Jan. 1 edition neared, I had that “something’s-sneaking-up-behind-me” feeling, knowing that I really needed to carve out the time to compile the Klamath Perspectives entries ahead of publication. It didn’t happen. On deadline, the evening of Dec. 31, as I was approving the design of the Jan. 1 front page, the glaring proof of failure was evident.
There were no pictures of women in the gallery of photos for “Klamath Perspectives.”
There were no women’s perspectives.
The dawning conversation via a messaging program to our page designer went something like this:
Me: “Oh, that’s a lot of men.”
Designer: “Yeah I noticed that, too.”
We were way past the point of remedy.
(P.S. — Kudos to the H&N’s sports editor Steve Matthies and sports writer Sierra Webster who received responses from female athletes and coaches, which were printed on an inside page of the Jan.1 edition.)
The reaction from our readers to our front page was immediate. As it should have been. We received phone calls, emails and letters to the editor. Everyone I spoke with about “Klamath Perspectives” was understanding, and each gave me much-appreciated advice from their own experiences.
We printed the letters, with this short and unsatisfactory editor’s note explaining that it “was an oversight, and not an intentional exclusion of the many notable women in leadership positions in our community.”
So why talk about this now?
In the absence of a thorough explanation, the conversation in the community, and the disappointment in the paper about “Klamath Perspectives” hasn’t faded with the next news cycle. The lack of a full explanation was a disservice to our readers.
Thank you to all of the women and men who emailed, wrote letters to the editor and called. Your passion for supporting and recognizing the talented and courageous women in leadership roles in our community is inspiring.
So, with this said, I will try to never, ever, ever do that again.