It's easy to criticize the choices made by editors when they decide what belongs on page one and what the day's lead story is. I have been in that position, and from time to time, my choices were criticized.
Therefore, I should be the last one to want to criticize the story selection of a fellow member of the journalistic fraternity.
However, it's a heck of a lot of fun, so let's do it.
The Globe had an opportunity to show a modicum of restraint and not lead with the Michael Jackson story. And it had good reason not to lead with it.
First off, an FBI investigation has been launched into the police misconduct case that the Globe has done so much solid work to keep in the public eye. Globe editors did make sure the FBI story was above the fold, so it did receive prominent attention, but why not play up a stronger local story, one which has resonated not just throughout Joplin, but throughout the entire area instead of a tabloid-brand national story.
If I had been the editor (something I'm sure Joplin Globe readers are happy is not the case), I would have done something a little unexpected. You have to run the Jackson story somewhere in the newspaper, no doubt about it. Jackson is a cultural icon, though obviously a warped cultural icon.
Run the story, but run it inside and scrap the man-on-the-street sidebar. Man-on-the-street pieces had their day, but newspapers cost five cents apiece in that day. Put a reference to the Jackson story above the banner. That will serve to let any reader who is actually interested in Michael Jackson to know that the newspaper has trial coverage. You can even say something like "comprehensive coverage of the Jackson verdict on page 5." If people really want to read about it, they will know it's in the paper and there is plenty of it. At the same time, you are wasting only a small portion of page one, the showcase page where you tell your readers what news you believe is the most important.
With the Jackson story on an inside page, where it belongs, the editor has options. It would be easy to go with a banner headline about the FBI investigation, but why not pick the day after the Jackson verdict to give lead coverage to a trial that, in the long run, is far more important than a child molestation case involving a washed-up rock star?
On the back page of the Globe's A section, the editors ran a three-paragraph article on the beginning of jury selection for the Klansman charged with the murder of three civil rights workers in 1964 in Mississippi. The murders played a key role in the civil rights movement in the '60s. It is a far more interesting story than the freak show surrounding Michael Jackson.
That was the story that would have caught the attention of the public if it had been placed at the top of page one. Apparently, Globe editors did not think the story was worth more than a paltry three paragraphs.
Oh, well. Maybe that kind of off-the-wall thinking is why I'm no longer making that kind of decision. In this era of scandal stories, wardrobe malfunctions, and celebrity gossip, it looks like my brand of journalism is woefully out of date.