Tuesday, March 01, 2005

New York Times wants to play tabloid today

The New York Times is back to wanting to be a tabloid today, begging to be actually.

On the front page, we find a story on the Michael Jackson trial.

New developments?

No, just opening statements.

Considering that the paper (rightly) resisted the urge to splash the Scott Peterson trial on the front page, it's strange that Jackson's on the front page (in story and photo). Also strange the amount of attention the paper gives Lil' Kim's trial inside the paper (jury selection).

These are junk news stories and don't belong in the paper.

Paul von Zielbauer concludes his three part series looking at jail conditions (with "A Spotty Record of Health Care at Juvenile Sites in New York ") but his story is overshadowed by junk news like John M. Broder's "Jackson Prosector Tells of Abuse and Conspiracy." Seeing that this story is based on opening statements from the prosecutition, we apparently can expect to see large front page as witnesses and evidence are actually introduced.
Celebrity Justice apparently has nothing on the Times.

In honest to God trial news, check out "Judge Says U.S. Terror Suspect Can't Be Held as an Enemy Combatant" by Neil A. Lewis which details not an opening statement, but an honest to God judicial ruling. One that says Jose Padilla must be charged or released:

"The court finds that the president has no power, neither express nor implied, neither constitutional nor statutory, to hold petitioner as an enemy combatant."

Yeah, a ruling. One that touches on the powers of the executive branch. And Lewis' actual news story is buried on A14. Now maybe if it involved a celebrity it could be on the front page . . . even if it was just opening statements?

Something that has real life and historical importance is buried inside the paper. Do you get how tacky the paper becomes as it rushes to find it's inner tabloid?

Online, you can find this AP story "2 Bodies Found at Residence of U.S. Judge:"

A federal judge, who was once the target of a failed murder plot by a white supremacist, returned home from work to find two bodies inside her home.
U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow on Monday stumbled across the bodies of her husband, attorney Michael F. Lefkow, and her mother, Donna Humphrey, 89, who was visiting from Denver, according to Tuesday's editions of the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune.
Authorities gave no indication whether the two deaths were related to Judge Lefkow's involvement in the case of an Illinois white supremacist who was convicted last year of soliciting an undercover FBI informant to kill her.

[It's not on the front page, the story may be inside the paper but I'm not finding it.]

Eric Lichtblau's "Gonzales Lays Out His Priorities at Justice" informs you of several things (informs from inside the paper) including:

. . . Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales urged Congress on Monday to speed the process for deporting illegal immigrants, end the impasse over judicial nominees and extend federal antiterrorism powers under the USA Patriot Act.
Mr. Gonzales also said he expected the Justice Department to look for more aggressive ways to prosecute obscenity crimes, and he announced the creation of five federal-local task forces nationwide in an effort to curtail violent crime.
. . .
While Mr. Gonzales's confirmation as the first Hispanic attorney general buoyed many Hispanics, he showed no sign in his remarks on Monday of backing away from the Bush administration's efforts to speed deportation proceedings for illegal immigrants. Under Mr. Ashcroft, the Justice Department sought to streamline the process for immigration judges to hear appeals in deportation and asylum cases, and Mr. Gonzales said the system was in need of further repair.

Inside the paper is also where you will find Scott Shane's "U.S. Germ-Research Policy Is Protested by 758 Scientists:"

More than 700 scientists sent a petition on Monday to the director of the National Institutes of Health protesting what they said was the shift of tens of millions of dollars in federal research money since 2001 away from pathogens that cause major public health problems to obscure germs the government fears might be used in a bioterrorist attack.
The scientists, including two Nobel Prize winners and a biologist who is to receive the National Medal of Science from President Bush in March, say grants for research on the bacteria that cause anthrax and five other diseases that are rare or nonexistent in the United States have increased fifteenfold since 2001. Over the same period, grants to study bacteria not associated with bioterrorism, including those causing diseases like tuberculosis and syphilis, have decreased 27 percent, the petition said.
The letter, which has been circulated among scientists for several weeks, was sent on Monday to Dr. Elias Zerhouni, the director of the institutes, and was posted on the Web site of the magazine Science.
"The diversion of research funds from projects of high public-health importance to projects of high biodefense but low public-health importance represents a misdirection of N.I.H. priorities and a crisis for N.I.H.-supported microbiologist research," the letter said.

"Public health? We got a celebrity scandal trial's opening statements to cover!" is the apparent attitude of the Times today.

Brian Knowlton (International Herald Tribune -- a part of the New York Times Co.) has a front page story with "U.S. Cites Array of Rights Abuses by the Iraqi Government in 2004" which details various abuses in Iraq going on in 2004. In an apparent case of copy cat syndrome, Iraqi police believe they can also now torture the accused (do you suppose our own actions over there could have given the idea that this was accepted behavior)?

Larry Rohter's "With New Chief, Uruguay Veers Left, in a Latin Pattern" looks at the increasing shift in South America (one we're assured is "pink," not "red"):

Uruguay's shift consolidates what has become the new leftist consensus in South America. Three-quarters of the region's 355 million people are now governed by left-leaning leaders, all of whom have emerged in the past six years to redefine what the left means today.
From Brazil to Argentina to Ecuador and Venezuela, while demonstrating important differences in style and substance, these new leaders are united in their conviction that the free-market reforms of the 1990's have failed and by a renewed focus on egalitarianism and social welfare, but not to the point where it breaks the bank.

Check out Hassan M. Fattah's "Lebanon's Pro-Syria Government Is Dissolved After Protests" and get ready to defend yourself throughout the day with lines like, "No, honest, it's not the New York Post! I don't read tabloids!"