Community newspapers have the responsibility of reporting news as it happens. Just as importantly, newspapers provide larger context that puts the news in perspective.

That’s why at the end of each year, The Herald Bulletin reviews what’s happened over the past 12 months and publishes a Year in Review report. Many years, this consists of a list of top 10 local stories, often with about 500 words devoted to the top story and a couple hundred devoted to the others.

This year has been different in so many ways, with huge news stories piled one on top of another.

The pandemic, the social justice movement and the presidential election of 2020 are among the very top stories of the past three decades at least. So this year, we’re going bigger with our Year in Review coverage.

On Thursday, the last day of this long, harrowing year, we’ll publish a special 10-page section looking back over 2020.

The section will include our top 10 local stories of the year, but the first three (just guess what they are) will go much deeper than usual.

The section will also present three full-page graphics reviewing from a national perspective the pandemic, the social justice movement and the 2020 presidential election. Heather Bremer, our multi-talented managing editor of digital, created the graphics and will design the section.

I hope you’ll find the Year in Review section to be an excellent summation, with immediate hindsight’s advantages, of the unique and challenging news year we’ve weathered.

The day after our Year in Review, we’ll focus on the good stuff of 2020, with the announcement in the Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, newspaper of The Herald Bulletin’s 2020 Community Person of the Year.

I won’t give away the news but will say that this year’s selection is unique in the three decades that THB’s annual Person of the Year honor has been conferred.

As is the past, we’ll also highlight about half a dozen other folks in the community who were nominated for Person of the Year. We received about 40 nominations from readers, a higher number than most years.

The Person of the Year and the others to be highlighted are selected by the newspaper’s editorial board. The top 10 local stories of the year are picked by The Herald Bulletin’s newsroom staff.

We’ve been hard at work on another project in December — the spring issue of Madison magazine. The cover story and more than a dozen pages inside will explore local Black history. We’ll tell the stories of local Black leaders, historic local figures and multi-generation Black families in Madison County.

As usual, the magazine will also include every-issue staples such as Howard Hewitt’s wine column, a Q&A with a local newsmaker, health tips, a restaurant review and the People & Places photo compilation.

Madison will be available free of charge at The Herald Bulletin and retail outlets, restaurants and professional offices across Madison County beginning in early February.

Editor Scott Underwood’s column is published Mondays in The Herald Bulletin. Contact him at or 765-640-4845.

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