Thursday, April 07, 2005

On A Depressing Story

Possibly, the most depressing thing I have ever read in the New York Times. It's an article that describes a building in New York going through its gentrification process; the poor and down-on-their-luck types being replaced by the well-and-high-heeled ones. I think that this moment of the journalist's self-reflection only doubles the article's heaviness:
There are more important matters in the world than the four old men living out their lives in a building that has changed around them. Their story does not concern the war or the economy, but here it is nonetheless.
I think that recently I have begun to sneer at the notion that journalists are capable of writing articles in an objective manner; I mean, we all look at the world from a particular lens and all that. But, reading that little prelude, I suspect that a line can be drawn between the "facts" and senseless editorial commentary.

Sure, I'll concede that maybe, in the grand scheme of things, there are things going on in the world that are more significant than what is happening here. But, I will also point out that the point of these soft news pieces is probably to highlight some small aspect of life--some banal mundanity--and elevate its significance and status--for a few paragraphs, at least. How is this done with such a rotten aside, stage whispered to the all-knowing readers and arbiters of what's what? Surely, even reporters from the Times--however established and knighted by the Paper's mist of Pulitzers Past, Present, and Future--must not be so fat and content as to allow such a comment to slip out so smoothly about the supposed insignificance of the very material providing them with their day's story.

It must be that the lives of these men are--in some small way, at least--significant to the people living them. Plus, in as much as they have warranted a journalist's attention, an even greater significance has been attached to them. In the end, I think that we, as readers, should be afforded the opportunity to apply our own standards of evaluation and decide where in the vast hierarchy of life these four men are stationed!


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