New York Times Devotes Entire Front Page to Names of Coronavirus Victims

Cheryl Sanders
May 24, 2020

As the coronavirus death toll eclipses 100,000 people in the United States, the New York Times ran a grim but extremely sobering front page.

Times researcher Alain Delaqueriere compiled a list of almost a thousand names from online obituaries and death notices and a team of editors sought to capture the uniqueness of each in a few words: "Alan Lund, 81, Washington, conductor with 'the most wonderful ear".

In an article for Times Insider, assistant graphics editor Simone Landon explained the treatment was a way of personalising the tragedy as readers and staff developed data fatigue from the constant reporting of the pandemic.

Short passages were lifted to use on the front page and give a sense of the "uniqueness of each life lost", including "Alan Lund, 81, Washington, conductor with "the most awesome ear" and "Theresa Elloie, 63, New Orleans, renowned for her business making detailed pins and corsages".

Alain Delaquérière, a researcher at the paper, combed through a bunch of online newspapers to find obituaries where the cause of death was listed as COVID-19.

The entire list, which continues inside, numbers almost 1,000 names - a fraction of the total loss of life in the USA during the outbreak so far.

"We knew that there should be some way to try to reckon with that number", she added".

Though the Times used the number "100,000", the actual death count on the newspaper's own running count is just above 97,000 as of early Sunday morning.

At 84 deaths, the Friday tally marked the first time since March that the daily toll was down in the double digits.

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