November 14, 2005

Height of Omission


Sometimes I get some chiding for focusing so much on the hard copy newspaper when a.) I’m electronic, and b.) it’s a dying form.

It’s not because I’m nostalgic.  It’s mostly because the organization of the print paper with its variable relations and proportions lends an insight into the editorial process that you can’t get on the (more uniform) web.

For example, I’ve been concerned about a rightist spin in the coverage of France’s social unrest (particularly in the visuals).  I have a couple examples in mind, but I’ll offer you what I consider a primary one.



Back on November 9th, the NYT ran a front page story on life inside the French housing projects.


Back on November 9th, the NYT ran a front page story on life inside the French housing projects.

Although they have done a few other pieces from the minority/immigrant
point of view, I believe this was the most prominent and the only one
focusing on living conditions. When I saw the front page, I was
gratified to think that I would finally see some published images of
these notorious towers. After the jump however, I was disappointed to
discover there were no images with the story — not even a file photo.


There was only a graph charting the increase in French
immigration. Although pitiful enough, what really troubled me was the
fact that right next to the housing story was an article about the
imposition of curfews — which included two images.

So, finally we had some towers — except these were towers of
automobiles which could only have been burned by the people in the
invisible housing projects referred to "next door." (There was even a
nice white man posed in front of those mostly — or previously — white
vehicles.) In the second photo, the Prime Minister was conferring with
the race baiting Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. So here we had the
powers that be. And, in the next column was not a dwelling nor even a
face to put to the population being conferred about and placed under

After reading something in the print paper, I don’t usually
check its digital twin. As a result, it wasn’t until later that I saw the web version of the housing story.  And in fact, there was
an image there. Yes, there it was, a bit of a large St. Denis apartment
complex in the distance. But you could definitely make it out, in spite
of the trees on both sides, as well as the big blue police van in front
of those concrete road barriers.

(image: Frederick Florin/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images. November 9, 2005. Paris.

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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