Monday, October 03, 2005

The New York Times, less of a newspaper all the time

The big Page One Headline on yesterday's (Sunday's) NY Times...

To More Inmates, Life Term Means Dying Behind Bars
That is, a life term means a "life term". Well, let's put aside the tenor of the story, that this is a bad thing, it is bad that as judges hand out life sentences they no longer tell convicted murderers...
" if you behave yourself, there is a good chance that you will learn a trade and you will be paroled after a few years."
... and put off considering the merits of the whole issue until another time.

The question that occurred to me as I saw this headline on the dead-tree version of the paper was: "What's the news value of this story today, Sunday, October 2?"

I mean, from bombings in Bali to a new moon for a new planet, there were news events of the day to be reported. But this story about the evolution of "life terms" could have been reported Friday, Monday, last week, next month ... maybe at even greater length and more thoughtfully in the Magazine Section. Where is the news in it?

I'm hardly the first person to observe that our "newspaper of record" is having its lead news stories morph into op-ed pieces, while the paper itself turns into a lobbyist for selected social and political causes, and I surely won't be the last ... but here we are.

And they want me to pay $3.50 for this on Sunday. Which I no longer do.