Thursday, May 05, 2005
Above the Fold
Oh, and Commando: you thought the subhead would read "Blood flows like a river", but they actually got much more creatively graphic: "Blood coats the streets".
But let's talk placement. An article on the latest in a long string of suicide bombings of Iraqi civilians is on the left side of the front page, covering space eight inches long and two inches wide. An article on the capture of the third ranking al-Qaida terrorist - a much more important and newsworthy event - is on the right side of the front page, with a lead measuring 6 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches. The lead portions of the two articles are roughly the same area. So, does that mean they have treated the stories equally?
Of course not. The negative headline "Carnage continues across Iraq" is "above the fold" and the positive headline "Al-Qaida's No. 3 Bagged in Pakistan" is "below the fold".
The phrase "above the fold" refers to the location of an important news story or photograph on the front page of a newspaper. Most papers are delivered and displayed to customers folded up, meaning that only the top half of the front page is visible. Thus, an item that is "above the fold" is usually one that the editor feels will entice people to buy the paper.So, here we have documentation of SAEN bias in their reporting on the war on terrorism. Two articles, filling the same space, one positive and one negative. Given a completely free editing choice, which one did the editor decide to place "above the fold"? Do you agree that the reporting of yet another suicide bombing in Iraq is more newsworthy than the capture of the 3rd-ranked member of Al-Qaida?
If so, Bob Rivard has a job for you.
This isn't just another bombing. It took place in a Kurdish city that had been relatively violence-free, making it an especially noteworthy event. Moreover, its placement is appropriate. The headline is above the fold, but not the article. Flipping the paper to read the article would lead one to see the right-side article on the al-Qaida operative's capture. In fact, the England story is the paper's lead for the day, as Commando predicted.
But, Gregg, I could say the same thing if it was the positive headline that had been selected to be above the fold.
So we're back where we started: a free choice by the SAEN editor to put one or the other article above the fold. They chose the negative headline. Based on the documentation chronicled in this blog, we can be confident they will ALWAYS accentuate the negative on this issue, when they have the option.