Monday, May 14, 2007

NYT: Gives up even pretending to be in the news business

Remember the Virginia Tech shootings? Specifically, remember how the New York Times covered that? Non-stop. Day after day. Multi-page sections in each day's edition, always at least one (usually more than one) starting on the front page. In case you need a reminder . . .


So what's the point? An act of violence in the US, a one day act of violence, results in non-stop, weekly coverage (they were still front paging it a week after it happened). On Saturday, 4 US service members and an Iraqi translator were killed. (Initial reports said 5 US service members.) 3 are missing.

The Times relegated that to A6 of the Sunday paper (and the Sunday paper having to go to to bed early myth was addressed yesterday -- no type setters are going block by block for each letter today). So it's Monday and where's the story?

A8. A laugh-fest on the trade gap is front page, Rudy G (and his alleged legacy -- and, for the record, it's May 2007, not May 2008 -- translation, no pressing need for it to be on the front page), a woman who operates a gondola in Italy, Chrysler and what's Eliot Spitzer up to.

But A8 is where this appears (the 'tease' on the front page doesn't count):

About 4,000 American ground troops, supported by surveillance aircraft, attack helicopters and spy satellites, swept towns and farmland south of Baghdad on Sunday, searching for three American soldiers who disappeared Saturday after their patrol was ambushed, military officials said.

That's from Kirk Semple "U.S. Forces Search Iraq Area for 3 Missing Soldiers." If the Times is remotely in the news business, someone should be called to the carpet for the way this story has played out for two days now.

Turning to the Times of Los Angeles, Tina Susman's "Iraqi militants claim to hold U.S. soldiers" has more details than Semple's report (Semple's report includes a TV correspondent-like line 'If history is any guide' that doesn't belong in a newspaper's reporting). From Susman:

Three U.S. soldiers disappeared after the Saturday morning ambush 12 miles west of Mahmoudiya.
The military did not identify the U.S. troops, and did not reveal their combat unit, but some new details of the incident emerged.
At least one victim suffered gunshot wounds, though it was unclear whether he was shot before or after blasts enveloped the soldiers' two vehicles in flames, said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a military spokesman.
An Army Quick Reaction Force, deployed about 15 minutes after the 4:44 a.m. attack, had to avoid a roadside bomb in its path as it headed toward the scene in the darkness, Garver said.
The force arrived about 40 minutes later, he said. "This is not like responding to a two-alarm fire on Sunset Boulevard. They can't just drive up. You have to be wary along the way."
There was no way to verify the militant group's claim, which appeared on its website. Islamic State of Iraq, a coalition of Sunni groups loyal to Al Qaeda, offered no photographic evidence to back it up.
The area of the attack is a stronghold of anti-American insurgents. Two U.S. soldiers were captured there and slain last year. Another group loyal to Al Qaeda claimed to have captured and killed the men. The Army came under criticism after the incident for having allowed the unit to operate in such a dangerous area without helicopter support.
In the latest incident, there were two vehicles in the patrol, but it was unclear what the troops were doing when they came under attack. One military official said it appeared the soldiers had been stationary, indicating that they may have been guarding a checkpoint.

And Lloyd notes this from Joshua Partlow's "Iraq Insurgents Boast of Ambush" (Washington Post):

The American soldiers were not moving in a convoy at the time of the attack, but rather parked in two Humvees in an area 12 miles west of Mahmudiyah, attempting to prevent insurgents from laying down roadside bombs, said a U.S. military official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Americans frequently conduct such missions, known as "overwatch," to monitor suspected trouble spots at night. It is unusual to have American soldiers out on patrol in as few as two vehicles.
"This was not a convoy, they weren't roving, they were in a fixed location," the official said. "Their mission was to counter the emplacement of improvised explosive devices."
The coordinated attack began when a roadside bomb blew up on the soldiers, followed by gunfire, officials said. The two vehicles went up in flames and were spotted 15 minutes later by a surveillance drone, after a nearby unit that heard explosions could not make contact with the Humvees. The extent of the damage made it difficult to identify the slain soldiers.

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