Friday, December 05, 2008

How USA Today and Raleigh N&O reported record low U. S. combat deaths

USA Today’s front page yesterday carried the headlines:

U.S. combat deaths hit record low

11 troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in November
followed by a story which began:
U.S. combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan last month dropped to the lowest combined level since the United States began fighting the two wars more than five years ago.

Eleven American servicemembers died in combat in the conflicts in November. Seven others died in non-hostile incidents. The highest monthly total for combat deaths in both wars was 129 in November 2004. …
The rest of the story’s here.

And how did the McClatchy Company’s liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer report the news of record low U. S. combat deaths in November?

Yesterday buried on page 7A the N&O ran a 6-paragraph story with the small font lede:
Attacks in Iraq hit lowest level ever
The story's first five grafs concern bombing attacks in Iraq. Then comes this final, single-sentence graf:
U. S. combat deaths were down in November too, falling to one of their lowest monthly levels of the war – eight.
One sentence at the bottom of a brief story buried inside the “A” section was all the N&O thought the news of record low U. S. combat deaths was worth.

And if you look back at the USA Today story, you see the N&O not only grossly underreported important news, it also mangled it.

As for what made the N&O’s front page, its major above the fold story yesterday was headlined:
Canes rehire Maurice

The former coach replaces fired 2006 Stanley Cup winner Laviolette
It was accompanied by a large color photo of Maurice. (View front page here - pdf)

The N&O’s senior editors continue to insist it's a serious, unbiased newspaper.

They're also trying to figure out how to reverse the N&O's circulation decline.