I have struggled with the decisions made by our local newspaper, the Rapid City Journal. Part of a newspaper's job is to grade the news. That's what the copy desk does and I did it for many years at the Journal.
The news of Ted Kennedy's death appeared on page 9 of today's dead tree version. Page 9.
I don't care what anyone thinks about the late senator from Massachusetts. If you loved him or hated him, news of his death belonged on page 1 above the fold. But Kennedy died late in the evening and re-working page 1 was likely too inconvenient at that hour to do the right thing.
The Journal will, if they address it at all, tell you that it was impossible to make the change at that late hour. That's not true. It would have been inconvenient, and perhaps expensive to do it. But it was not impossible.
I was at the Journal when the change to a.m. delivery was made. Final edition (the one you get on your porch) deadline was Midnight. News of Kennedy's death hit CNN and Fox at about 11:25. That's more than enough time in the old days of sending type to camera and re-doing page 1. Pagination technology available today makes it even faster.
This was more likely about the convenience of the copy desk. The Journal's philosophy of local and state news domination of page 1 may have come into play. But that's no excuse. I've made many late-night phone calls to awaken a local source to get their reaction to national news. Possible sources for reaction to this story: Jim Abdnor, George McGovern, Tom Daschle, Bill Janklow, John Thune, Tim Johnson, Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, prominent local Democrats and Republicans.
In any event, local spin or no local spin, burying (pardon the pun) Ted Kennedy's death on page 9 was symptomatic of why newspapers in this country continue to lose circulation.
Such decisions make it difficult to take seriously a newspaper in which I once took great pride. This decision makes them a laughingstock.