Monday, December 17, 2007

Dates Disappear Next to Datelines at New York Times

Another Anachronism Bites The Dust

See what happens when you take a week off, and you barely look at a newspaper during a vacation?
The New York Times has dispensed with another vestige of its past, telling the date a story was filed next to the dateline, assuming it was not in New York City.
On the one hand, this tradition was quaint, given that you could assume most stories in the paper were written the day before.
But sometimes it provided the ability to boast, like when a late-breaking story from one of the Asian bureaus could make it to the late editions. Then, editors would insert the actual day as well as the date to let you know the news still had its fresh-story smell.
Dates were also kept on even when the story was several days old, especially if a correspondent had two stories in the paper that day. That way, you wouldn't have to figure out how a reporter could have researched and written stories from Omaha and Houston on the same day. Times reporters may be good, they're just not that good.
Perhaps this is a concession to free up even an eeensy bit of space since the paper slimmed down its page width earlier this year.
But it may also be another sign of bringing the paper even further into the 21st century, as when the Times also eliminated the "Special to The New York Times" bug under all out-of-city dispatches.
Indeed, the front page took another bold leap today with its front-page feature picked up from the Times-0wned International Herald-Tribune on Laotians hired by the CIA to fight during the Vietnam War who are still being hunted by the Laotian government.
The story took up four columns at the top of the fold, and took over the space on the right rail where the lead story ordinarily resides. The Times has often splashed features on A-1 during slow news days, but never at the expense of the lead.
But it was a good package with which to try something different and roast another sacred cow at a newspaper that has rigidly stuck to the same diet for too long.

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