Story placement and bias at the NYT


The editor of a newspaper is the journalist responsible for selecting which news stories are deserving of being published, and who determines their placement within the newspaper. By doing so, he signals his judgment about the levels of importance of each story.

But he also tips his hand regarding any bias he may have in promoting certain stories. Today's New York Times provides a prima facie case of bias. The front—page gives the boo—hoo treatment to an illegal immigrant teenage girl deported to Bangladesh because of concerns of her potential to be a terrorist and because she broke the law . 

Yet, buried on page 10 of the national edition is a story of the capture of a key terrorist in Iraq — Mohammed Sharkawa — responsible for at least 50 car bombings and 150 beheadings, and who is also the number 2 man for arch—terrorist Abu Musab al—Zarqawi.

One would think that a newspaper which gives front—page treatment to every beheading and car bombing in Iraq would at least consider similar placement for the capture of the man responsible for the violence. Consider this: if an American plane were blown up in  mid—flight it would get front—page treatment. If the bomber were later captured, the story would naturally also get front—page placement. Why not the same logic?

Bias, quite plainly. The Times refuses to give Bush and the military credit when credit is due and instead saves space to draw a sympathetic portrait of a criminal.

Ed Lasky  6 17 05