How to Write a Newspaper Article

by Brian on April 2, 2005

From the “New York Times article on the Pope’s Death”: as of 3.25pm East Coast time.

Even as his own voice faded away, his views on the sanctity of all human life echoed unambiguously among Catholics and Christian evangelicals in the United States on issues from abortion to the end of life.

need some quote from supporter

John Paul II’s admirers were as passionate as his detractors, for whom his long illness served as a symbol for what they said was a decrepit, tradition-bound papacy in need of rejuvenation and a bolder connection with modern life.

p. Somehow I don’t think the middle paragraph was meant to be there. And I would like to see those masses of Christian Evangelicals among whom the Pope’s views on the death penalty were echoing. I thought some of them were arguing we were “too restrictive in our killing practices”:

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Blog: Derek Rose » Blog Archive » the Pope and the Times
04.02.05 at 8:59 pm



Keith M Ellis 04.02.05 at 4:12 pm

There’s at least four editors that review every word before it gets published in print journalism! As you can see from this example.


Eszter Hargittai 04.02.05 at 4:51 pm

Nice catch.

It looks like they’ve changed it. I grabbed a copy of the page just before they did.


abb1 04.02.05 at 5:11 pm

Yeah, sanctity of all human life doesn’t sound particularly evangelical. They are usually concerned about something they call innocent life, whatever it may be. Not these people in Fallujah, apparently.


Katherine 04.02.05 at 6:46 pm

I’m a lapsed Catholic twice over, but if the enduring legacy of the pope who inspired Havel’s ideas about “living and the truth” and who Walesa credits more than anyone else with the fall of Communism is for the Catholic Church to become the church of Ratzinger and Santorum and the tool of Dobson and DeLay; the Church that denies communion to gay people and expels priests who give condoms to wives who fear their husbands have AIDS. God. I can’t take it.

I hope the Holy Spirit really does descend on the conclave. We need it to, badly.


yabonn 04.02.05 at 7:08 pm

Pope 0 : 1 Fidel

It’s not over.


Jim Harrison 04.02.05 at 8:08 pm

The former Pope was, for better or worse, pretty close to Ratzinger when the chips were down.


Matt 04.02.05 at 8:28 pm

great catch (and Eszter, I’m so glad that you snagged it)


clueless 04.02.05 at 10:40 pm

abb1: “Not these people in Fallujah, apparently”

It looks like these 5 people are all dead…..but there’s no blood or gore. Actually, remove the tank and the soldiers from this picture and it actually looks like these are street people…..sleeping in the street. The one person in the forefront of the picture (wearing the yellow shorts) even had the courtesy to place a pink towel underneath her(him)self before ‘dieing’. If these people ARE dead, it would seem more likely they died from a chemical agent than bullets or bombs.


Sebastian Holsclaw 04.03.05 at 1:09 am

The funny thing about that article is apparently the writer could easily find unceasing critics of the pope, but he couldn’t find a single supporter to defend one of the most popular popes in history.


SocraticGadfly 04.03.05 at 1:15 am

Of course that was an editor’s notation.

I’m the editor of a suburban Dallas weekly, and also assistant managing editor of our five-newspaper group.

However, at a major daily, the communication between hardcopy and online editorial staff often isn’t flowing that freely.

I’m sure that what happened was, somehow a preliminary version of the hardcopy story that was getting knocked into shape was supposed to be sent to somebody at the online news editor’s desk, and an unedited version was sent.

Still, if the story wasn’t that long, you would think somebody on the online side would have caught it.


Katherine 04.03.05 at 2:24 am

Your Michelle Malkin impression is unbecoming…It’s actually not SO easy finding an American supporter of his views on contraception or his handling of the abuse scandal or infallibility and suspending theologians who wouldn’t toe the line–there are plenty but they’re vastly outnumbered among lay Catholics. But that’s beside the point–the point is, it’s just who the reporter called when or who called back when or who he’d called before. I can’t tell you how many “yadda yaddas” & analagous thing I’ve put in articles–what’s remarkable here is the poor copyediting, nothing more.


Hedley Lamarr 04.03.05 at 6:52 am

What about the odd belief that because no women were at the head table of the Last Supper, no females need apply to the priesthood?


W Basher 04.03.05 at 8:32 am

abb1: “Not these people in Fallujah, apparently”

The photograph is of children sleeping around an American tank. They aren’t dead.

Not that there aren’t plenty of dead ones somewhere else, I’m sure.

More evidence of the culture of life at work.


Sebastian Holsclaw 04.03.05 at 11:19 am

“It’s actually not SO easy finding an American supporter of his views on contraception or his handling of the abuse scandal or infallibility and suspending theologians who wouldn’t toe the line—there are plenty but they’re vastly outnumbered among lay Catholics. But that’s beside the point—the point is, it’s just who the reporter called when or who called back when or who he’d called before.”

The article wasn’t about his view on contraception it was about his life in general. The article wasn’t about American views it was about world views, see the other quotes. It is exceedingly easy to find supporters for his role against Communism both among Catholics and non-Catholics. Furthermore his death was not unexpected, so the time pressure for quotes/who called me back excuse is very thin. Lastly I don’t even know what you mean by Malkin impression. It is apparently some sort of insult but I have no idea what it has to do with the argument. I read her maybe once every other month. I’m not even a Catholic and I think it is ridiculous for a NYT writer to try to sum up the pope’s tenure as being all about contraception.


abb1 04.03.05 at 11:59 am

FWIW: the photo’s on this page: Free Iraq. It’s titled “Dead children in ‘Liberated’ Fallujah”. There’s some dicussion concerning authenticity there as well, but, of course, no one can guarantee anything.


abb1 04.03.05 at 12:07 pm

Oh, and when I browsed comments on that page, I got an impression that a few people there opined along the lines that the dead children on the photo were not really innocent life – for a variety of reasons. I thought that was interesting and kinda relevant to this views on the sanctity of all human life echoed unambiguously among Catholics and Christian evangelicals thingy in the above piece.


Mithras 04.03.05 at 12:28 pm

Holsclaw, having trouble recognizing your own character? Here’s the mirror.


dgoodie 04.03.05 at 12:55 pm

Those who think the Pope did not value all human life including Iraq, forget how he argued with Bush to not go there. As he argued for all human life causes. But bush has long had a history of the disregard for anyone except those who kiss his boots. How about the deaths of so many prisoners while he was “gov” of Texas regardless of their mental state or innocence. How about the Texas 1999 “anti-Shaivo” law he signed that allowed ill patients to be disconnected against any wishes and in 2003 that law was expanded to include minors to pediatrics regardless of parental wishes. And the biggest factor in the law is the patient or family’s ability to PAY. And now criticize the Pope about Iraq!! An ounce of his Grace would do us all good in recognizing how the evil of those in power worldwide is spreading and why.


winterfire 04.03.05 at 1:02 pm

You just have to wonder what that itenerent sage, Yeshua bin Yosef, would think about all of the wealth and pomp that is Rome. As Popes go, John Paul II was a good Pope. I just wonder what Jesus would think about Pope Mobiles and Lear Jets.

I wonder what he would think of the wealth of the Baptist Convention in America and wild-eyed, hate-filled white men threatening people in his name?

Here was a man who had no home and walked everywhere he went, except for that one Donkey ride into Jerusalem, and who never tried of railing about hypocricy and insulting the corrupt religious authorities of his day.

Blessed are the poor…

That would should rule out the Churches, and most religious leaders.


Brian 04.03.05 at 1:15 pm

I certainly wasn’t meaning to make any point about NYT-bias here, I just thought it was funny that the copy editing notes made it onto the page.

Well, there is one substantive point. Namely that everyone trying to fit orthodox Catholic views (anti-abortion, anti-death penalty, anti-euthanasia, relatively pro-poverty relief programs, pro-evolution teaching etc) into standard American political discourse will always face a square peg-round hole problem. Trying to pigeon hole JPII as a standard issue American conservative is a disservice to him, whether it is being done by those on the left or on the right. Still, given how unpopular that basket of views is in America, it perhaps isn’t too surprising that they had to shop around a bit for an unreservedly supporting quote.


monica 04.04.05 at 4:58 am

Speaking of attempts to pigeon-hole JPII as a standard issue American conservative, did anyone see Colin Powell on CNN going on and on about how this pope brought down communism *and* how he was all for freedom and democracy just like Bush? He made him sound like a pioneer of the neocons. Not a peep on all those angry speeches (literally, with fists being raised and all) Karol had been making since the 80’s against war, against military and economic imperialism, he even spoke of redistributing wealth and bridging the gap with the poorer countries, and ok, he didn’t say that from a communist perspective, obviously, but still, not from a “compassionate conservative” perspective either… Not to mention the stance against the death penalty – and, no matter how much of it was or was not reported in US media, I don’t know that, he really did a lot in that sense. At least until 2000 or so. It wasn’t just speeches. Vatican diplomacy was always very active in that sense and they worked also with human rights ngo’s. The condemnation of war was unequivocal. Again, not just speeches, but political and diplomatic work. Meeting Saddam’s number II included. It was just so unbelievable to watch Powell sit there and pretend that was not their strongest anti-war opponent since the fist Gulf War. One of the most shameless acts of post-mortem appropriation ever. Not yet underground, and he’s already Wolfowitz II. I should have expected it, but it still came as a shock.

That, and the Schiavo comparison. Oh, he died just two days after her, and he also had a feeding tube inserted! wow, that makes their situation so similar! How about him not being anywhere near a vegetative state, and dying at 84, not 27 or 40? Guess that’s just a small detail! We can still file that amazing coincidence of dying two days apart under the “culture of life” section. If Prince Ranier of Monaco had just died the same day too, with a feeding tube inserted in his nose as well, my, wouldn’t editors all over the world have been even luckier.


Joe Fields 04.04.05 at 6:44 am

I was trying to find an archive of Bill O’Reilly criticizing the Pope for being opposed to the Iraq war. It was between 12/02 and 4/03. Why did nobody from the media defend the pope then? I figure it is because the media ia a paid mouthpieces repeating bush propaganda. Is this the liberal media bias I hear so much about??


DogFoNam 04.04.05 at 8:41 am

All churches, everywhere, everyday, should be in a constant screaming mode of railing against the Iraqi bushWar. This war as most wars are 100% anti-Christ-wars. If any christain church does not continually shout this then that church and all of it’s followers/members are not christains and I include the Pope and whomever becomes the next Pope.
Just speaking occasionally about your opposition to a war while everyday that passes sees more and more death and destruction from that war is not good enough. There is no such thing as a part-time christain.
Now there’s a mirror for you.


Basharov 04.04.05 at 11:30 am

Those who think the Pope did not value all human life including Iraq, forget how he argued with Bush to not go there.

I kind of forget, too. When did he “argue with Bush”? He said he was against the war, but then he didn’t actually do anything to stop it other than the usual ineffectual “prayers for peace”. If he’d hopped on a plane to Baghdad with about 30 of his Cardinals and then stood in solidarity with the protestors there who had put their own lives on the line, I don’t think even Dubya would have pumped his fist in the air and said “Feels good!” as he launched “shock and awe.”


monica 04.04.05 at 12:11 pm

Basharov, the Vatican is a political institution not to mention a State, it’s not an activist organisation, they couldn’t have employed the Pope and 30 cardinals as human shields even if they’d wanted to. No more than France could have sent De Villepin as a human shield. If we want to be realistic, that is.

On the other hand, being a State with its own political – and financial – institutions as well as a religious church, means the Vatican has its own diplomacy and intelligence, which definitely have more power than activist organisations. For better and for worse. See under Pinochet, Franco, etc.

The fact they didn’t single-handedly stop the US from invading Iraq doesn’t mean the anti-war stance was left to just a few calls for peace in papal sermons. There were publicly known diplomatic efforts such as meetings with Blair and Tareq Aziz, then there was the usual behind the scenes diplomatic work. Of course even they knew they could not stop the US, but not even a military power could have. If you’re going to judge the strength of an anti-war stance by the effects it obtains when the pro-war side is the USA, then forget about it.

The Vatican also had their own very pragmatic interests in wanting to prevent a war, not least wanting to avoid clashes with the Arab and Muslim world, and the fact that under Saddam the Christian minorities in the area had been protected from Islamic fundamentalists.


Uncle Kvetch 04.04.05 at 2:26 pm

I was trying to find an archive of Bill O’Reilly criticizing the Pope for being opposed to the Iraq war.

Here y’go, Joe:

But as I’ve said before, I believe also that John Paul is naive and detached from reality. If America does not lead an attack on Iraq, once again, Saddam remains in power and is free to use his anthrax and other terrible weapons as he chooses.

So the pope does not seem to be concerned about that or about Saddam’s behavior in general. Once again, he must know Saddam is a killer. He must know he’s oppressed his own people using murder and torture. He must know that.


Summing up, Jacques Chirac is our enemy, and the pope, well, I don’t know what to think.


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