by David Safier
The NY Times ran a story today, After Health Vote, Threats on Democrats. The only photos related to the vandalism in the online piece (I don't have the paper itself) are the most evocative photo taken of the vandalism anywhere in the country, the flag behind broken glass at Giffords' Tucson office, and a photo of Giffords herself.
I would love to ask the editors at the Star, "If you had run that flag-behind-broken-glass photo on the front page above the fold the next day, how many extra copies of the paper do you think you would have sold from the newsstands?"
I once took a tour of the Star and was allowed to sit in on the editors' meeting where they decide what stories go where in the paper. Lining the walls of the room were past front pages that sold newspapers. And one of their main questions was, "What do we run above the fold tomorrow?" They know, the right photo and the right story sells papers. Obviously, that's a very big deal.
The editors, with the photo of the vandalism in hand (I alread had the photo, which I ran online, so they must have had it too), decided they would cover the vandalism in paragraph 17 of a story on an inside page. It was also mentioned in an editorial that day.
So what do we have in today's paper, now that the iconic photo has shown in nearly every major news outlet around the country and Giffords has been interviewed about the vandalism numerous times elsewhere?
We have a story pieced together from wire reports, FBI looks at flurry of threats against members of Congress. No photo anywhere. The local incident at Giffords' office, which put Tucson on the national news map, is mentioned in the third paragraph from the bottom of the article. Here's the entire paragraph:
Bricks were also thrown through district offices of Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.
The Star has made an editorial decision to downplay the vandalism to Giffords' office. And it isn't wavering. Unless the paper changes its mind, it will not run a single photo of Giffords' office or a single quote from Giffords herself.
I have to be fair. I can't say the Star treated the vandalism like it didn't happen. The truth is, the Star treated the vandalism like it didn't matter.