By Arthur Alpert
We drown in facts even as we thirst for meaning.
Meaning is born of context. Reporters and essayists provide it within their pieces by using history, comparisons and other explanatory material.
(It’s not today’s subject but that required reportorial intervention is why “objectivity” doesn’t exist and why “just the facts, please” is a nonsensical request.)
Another kind of context is less obvious. It’s supplied by editors when, for example, they decide to to play a story on Page One, thereby signaling to the reader that it’s important. Page 42? Not that big a deal. They also send us messages with their decisions on size, adorning the piece with color and art, using a pull quote and, of course, headlining it.
This is where the Albuquerque Journal’s top decision makers strike. Blatantly, insistently, they impose a political agenda. Today’s case in point is their “news” coverage of the report on U.S. torture following 9/11.
Let’s start with a Ripley event. Believe it or not, on December 10, 2014, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the editors ran a sidebar on the front page!
A sidebar, the narrower piece that accompanies the main story, follows its big brother. Sometimes, they abut side-by-side. Sometimes the sidebar is below. Once in a while the main story runs up front and there’s a note alerting us to a sidebar on another page.
But – and it’s a big BUT – putting the sidebar (lesser, remember) on Page One and burying the basic account inside is, well, weird. Backward and – I was going to say – inane.
But no, not if we presume the editors are politicians. Now it makes great sense.
For by running the sidebar on the front page (noting that “details” are on A5), the Journal relegates the big, ugly story to A5.
Allow me to hover over that for a moment and restate it this way: