The list

It’s been an unusual week around here at SN&R. That’s because many editorial staff and designers have been involved—in different ways and at various stages—in a project related to the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq.

The project consists of a list.

The idea—conceived by Brian Burghart, editor at our sister paper in Reno, RN&R—was for all three of our papers (this includes our Chico paper, CN&R) to use the anniversary of the country’s entry into a fifth year of a war to pay tribute to the men and woman who have died in it. So the cover “story” is a list of names of the nearly 3,200 individuals who are gone from this world because of a wrongful war that should never have been. Following the names, we illustrate the far greater and even more damning death toll: that of the Iraqi population killed since the war began.

The first sign that the project might have an impact came from the Reno editor who had the task of running the list from Excel into a Word document. He had to actually manipulate information on the list name by name. Shaking his head, he told me, “I didn’t think it would hit me so hard.”

A staffer whose job it was to find quotes from friends and families of the people whose names were on the list had a similar response. Another, whose task was to bold the names of the Californians on the list, choked up from her duties, saying it had brought home how very young most of the dead were. The designer who worked on the cover and determined how the list would appear in our pages came to my office with a first run through of “the list” and said he too hadn’t expected it to have such a strong impact on him. He said: “This is really … this is real.”

So think about the anniversary. Contemplate how we got here. And consider the list.