Tuesday, November 23, 2004

News Topics "FIt to Print" make the front page -- but is the Times' own poll front page news?

With Thanksgiving closing in, today's New York Times' front page actually gives the readers something to be thankful for:  REAL NEWS TOPICS.
Buried inside, as always, are strong topics -- Carlotta Gall has a good piece on A14, "Afghans Deny Cabinet Aide Has Drug Role"; Somini Sengupta's "Fighting Erupts in West Sudan Despite Accord" on A10; Matthew Wald's "Nuclear Weapons Money Is Cut From Spending Bill" on A22; etc.  But all the stories that made today's front page are based on solid news topics:
* "Iraq Falls Short on Vote Security:  G.I.'s to help Guard Polls, but Only at a Distance"
* "Lacking Doctors, Africa Is Training Substitutes:  Paraprofessionals Are Cheaper and Work in Rural Areas"
* "Premier Winner in Ukranine Vote; Abuses are Seen"
* "Many Women Say Airport Pat-Down Is Too Humiliating"
* "Medical Journal Calls for a New Drug Watchdog"
* "Americans Show Clear Concerns on Bush Agenda"
Give thanks -- it may be awhile before this happens again.
That said . . .
America's feelings regarding Bush's agenda is a news topic, is anyone else bothered by the fact that this front page story is ACTUALLY a story about the results of a New York Times/CBS News Poll?  "Americans Show Clear Concerns on Bush Agenda" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/23/national/23poll.html?hp&ex=1101272400&en=3ea63a4e6a76d17d&ei=5094&partner=homepage) tells us, via the two sub-headings, that "Caution Joins Optimism"; and that "Poll Finds Reservations About Social Securtiy and Tax Changes." 
This piece, penned by Adam Nagourney & Janet Elder, highlights a number of factors concerning the public:
* "[. . .] Americans are at best ambivalent about Mr. Bush's plans to reshape Social Security, rewrite the tax code, cut taxes and appoint conservative judges to the bench."
* "[D]isapproval of Mr. Bushs' handling of the war in Iraq" not only continues but is "a plurality now saying it was a mistake to invade in the first place."
* "Nearly two-thirds of all respondents -- including 51 percent of Republicans -- said it was more important to reduce deficits than to cut taxes, a central element of Mr. Bush's economic agenda."
* "Seventy percent said they were very or somewhat concerned that television, movies and popular music were lowering moral standards in this country."
Notes on the poll itself are available online (as a sidebar to the web link above) and I'll look through it to see if anything stands out; however, asking again -- should a paper's own poll (regardless of the topic) be front page news?  The same story, running inside the paper, seems fine to me, but would anyone question it if it ran as is deep inside the paper?  If the topic's not covered by a poll, how else could the Times address it?  And is anyone else concerned about the sample size? 

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