They were not simply names on a list: NYT fills Page 1 with 1,000 obits

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A little over a hundred days after it reported its first COVID fatality, the United States is reaching the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths. The gravity of the peril has been profoundly illustrated on the front page of the May 24 edition of The New York Times.

NYT did away with articles, photographs and graphics with a solemn list of the names of 1000 victims, which is roughly a percent of the total deaths in the US.

US deaths near 100,000, an incalculable loss, was NYT's Page One headline and with an equally grim but compelling descriptor: They were not simply names on a list. They were us.

“Alan Lund, 81, Washington, conductor with the most amazing ear”

“Theresa Elloie, 63, New Orleans, renowned for her business making detailed pins and corsages”

“Florencio Almazo Morán, 65, New York City, one-man army”

“Coby Adolph, 44, Chicago, entrepreneur and adventurer”

so goes the names... offering a little peak into the precious lives.

While the list only has 1,000 names – a fraction of the total loss of lives in the US during the outbreak so far – the page has successfully managed to convey the “vastness and variety of the lives lost” as the NYT said in an accompanying piece.

“Putting 100,000 dots or stick figures on a page doesn’t really tell you very much about who these people were, the lives that they lived, what it means for us as a country,” Simone Landon, assistant editor of the Graphics desk, explained wrote.

She came up with the idea of compiling obituaries and death notices of COVID-19 victims from newspapers large and small across the country, and culling vivid passages from them.

“We wanted something that people would look back on in 100 years to understand the toll of what we’re living through,” Marc Lacey, National editor of the Times, wrote.

US had been reeling under the threat posed by coronavirus. Its healthcare system has crippled and its administration is in complete disarray. More than 97,000 people have died so far.

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