This is in response to Tom Clark’s description of The Herald-Sun (pre-2005) as the voice of “a certain part of the last generation of Durhamites … racist, homophobic, cigarette-making, red-baiting …” (Back Talk, Feb. 1).

What paper was he reading?

The paper I came to know was editorially a staunch supporter of civil rights, equal rights for gays and lesbians, raising the cigarette tax, abolition of the death penalty, and strengthening the effort to end poverty.

Our in-depth coverage of local issues was recognized not only regionally but nationally, including by the National Association of Black Journalists and the Freedom Forum. Corporately, we were one of the first newspapers in the state to reject cigarette advertising, and we were among the first companies in Durham to provide same-sex benefits for employees. Our vast support of community initiatives, including those with special significance for the African-American and Hispanic segments of the community, is well documented.

Clark is entitled, of course, to take issue with the paper’s at times conservative editorial positions, its news coverage, or anything else. But distorting the record while turning a blind eye to the unconscionable behavior of the new owners is akin to the red-baiting he self-righteously condemns.

David Hughey

publisher of The Herald-Sun
from 1996 to January 2005