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Four Killed In Madison Auto Accident, Does Not Make Front Page Of Wisconsin State Journal

March 22, 2020

There are so many ways to view the COVID-19 pandemic that has left some states in lockdown, others with strong encouragement to self-distance, and a high level of stress and angst nationwide.  I have been measuring–in no real meaningful way—the manner in which news has been transformed to basically one story, 24-7.  I often find what leads newscasts or makes the front pages of papers most interesting.

The virus has consumed every waking moment of media coverage, and there seems no other event can make it to headline status.   I understand the need for laser-like focus on the pandemic but do question how a major story of the kind which occurred in Madison Friday night–with four deaths in an auto accident–made it only to the Sunday edition of the Wisconsin State Journal buried in Section C, page three, without even a photo of the carnage.

Madison Police and Fire were called to a single-vehicle crash at Northport Drive and Packers Avenue Friday night that killed four. At least some of them had been ejected from the vehicle. Madison Police Lt. Kipp Hartman called the accident scene “very traumatic.” 

I get the fact the accident occurred too late for the Saturday newspaper, and perhaps by Sunday it was considered ‘old news’.  But four local people killed in our city in an accident would seem to warrant coverage on the front page in any circumstances. 

This is not a slam on the newspaper.  Nor on understanding the need to have every inch of the paper in these days of downsizing and revenue losses maximized for its best use to the news consumer.  But the tragic deaths of four people who very well may have been youth, and were surely driving at an extreme rate of speed given the utter destruction of the car, and themselves, calls for local news operations to report in a fashion that allows us to know what happened.  

After all, Madison is not the size of Los Angeles or Chicago, and it is most likely that the ones killed were known by many in this place we call home.  To have low-balled the story so far off the front page that it was possible many never even read it in the paper is sloppy journalism.

An editor in the newsroom should have seen the glaring omission on the front page of a local paper and corrected it.

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