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Opinion

Postscript: Is Christmas front-page news?

Most years, in the days following Dec. 25 (and, to a lesser degree, many of the major holidays, such as July 4 and Memorial Day), several readers write to The Times to express their displeasure over what they view as not enough coverage of the holiday.

This Christmas was no different. Reader Ana Barbure of Hermosa Beach thought something significant was missing from Sunday’s paper: a holiday greeting.

“I was extremely disappointed to see that the Sunday paper did not wish readers a happy Christmas,” she wrote. “It was business as usual, news about Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on the front page. I’m sick and tired of everyone avoiding saying ‘Merry Christmas’ as if it’s some shameful taboo thing we must not mention in today’s society.”

Though there wasn’t a banner proclaiming “Merry Christmas,” the holiday was represented throughout the paper. A Christmas story was the centerpiece on the front page; a photo in the main news section depicted the pope celebrating Christmas Mass; the Image section’s cover story was on a “merry makeover” for Santa; and even T.J. Simers’ column in the Sports section included a photo of his twin granddaughters crying on Santa’s lap.

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Assistant Managing Editor Joseph Eckdahl responds about the front page:

The news never sleeps, much like Santa on Christmas Eve.

Tens of thousands of people did take to the streets in Moscow, demanding an end to Putin’s domination of Russian politics. And Times reporters Robert Faturechi and Jack Leonard reported on the hundreds of innocent citizens jailed in Los Angeles County because of mistaken identities. Both were newsworthy pieces deserving of a spot on A1.

But it was the wonderful piece by Nita Lelyveld on the Pay It Forward Volunteer Band that captured the spirit of the season.

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Lelyveld chronicled the tireless efforts of small jazz combos that perform at nursing homes all over the county. From the best-run facilities to the more lonely ones, the volunteer musicians bring joy and laughter to the elderly and infirm, particularly during the holiday season. And Christina House’s photo of a 92-year-old resident singing “Silent Night” along with a Santa-hat-clad musician helped the story dominate the page.

Editors at The Times came into the day with a full and vigorous news report. With the mix of stories on A1, it was our hope that the page reflected how special this time of year is without flinching from our responsibility to keep our readers informed of news at home and from around the world, on Christmas — and every other day.


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