Tuesday, January 13, 2015

So, what’s worthy of front page news?

Last week, the day after the brutal killing of 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, The News & Observer did not run the story on its front page though the shootings were a horrific international incident. A few months ago, the management of The N&O decided to refocus the news sections to concentrate more on local and state news, pushing national and international stories inside and usually as far back as page 5, sometimes page 7 of the newspaper. The Charlie Hebdo story was pushed back, not front page news.

Letters to the editor took the decision to task; the writers of the letters couldn’t understand how the events of Paris didn’t warrant front page coverage. The newspaper’s readership which didn’t write to voice that opinion thought the same thing. Shortly thereafter, coverage of that murderous activity and the hunt for the perpetrators reached the front page, a good move by the newspaper. Nothing justified not playing it as a lead story the day after it happened. Along with other acts of terror related to the Charlie Hebdo shootings as well as with the show of disdain for those behind the killings through protests, it was an international incident that needed to be placed front and center.

What happened in Paris could happen anywhere, and the public needs to know about it. By publication time most of the readership of The N&O and other newspapers were well-versed in what had happened, but the newspaper owes it to the public to remind the readership of the dastardly deed if for no other reason but to tell everyone it could happen to them at any time. Newspapers and other media outlets are not our bother’s keeper but, no matter how far away from government and political life they try to distant themselves, they are not immune to terrorism. Just ask the remaining staff of Charlie Hebdo.

Sunday more than a million people gathered in the streets of Paris to show solidarity against worldwide terrorism. The pictures on television and those printed in newspapers offered an impressive reminder of the power people have when concentrated in one place. The staff of The N&O must have struggled Sunday evening about what to show on its Monday front page. The choice was either a photo of those million plus people in Paris or a photo of a few hundred rabid Wolfpack fans filling the basketball court at the PNC arena in Raleigh after NC State defeated Duke in basketball. Thank goodness the editors decided to go with the international focus instead of the local story.
Dictionary.com word of the day
catchpenny (adjective) [kach-pen-ee]: made to sell readily at a low price, regardless of value

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