I have always loved reading the paper on Thanksgiving Day; it’s the biggest paper of the year and usually holds some of the best stories. When I was a reporter, I loved nothing more than having a story on a section-front of The Kansas City Star.
As reporters, we knew very well that we had a huge audience that day and that thousands and thousands of people were actually taking the time to read the paper carefully.
Blessedly, my wife Patty and 24-year-old daughter Brooks are also avid newspaper readers (our 23-year-old son Charlie is another story; he’s still in bed as I write this), and today the kitchen table is overflowing with sections of The Star and The New York Times.
I think the Thanksgiving Day paper should give you a little bit of everything — hard news, appealing features, quirky elements, and it should call the readers’ attention to this very special, American feast day. The Star did a pretty good job of covering the bases today, but, of course, The Times outshined it.
With that, let me direct your attention to several highlights in today’s Times — highlights that can be appreciated whether you live in Manhattan, in the Heartland or on the West Coast.
The most intriguing and compelling story, in my opinion, was a front-page account of how inmates at the Rikers Island jail lent a hand — many hands, actually — to victims of Hurricane Sandy. At the initiation of New York City correction commissioner Dora Schriro, Rikers inmates did 6,600 pounds of laundry for people in emergency shelters. In addition, the jail supplied generators and gas to neighborhoods with power outages, and corrections officers delivered truckloads of canned and dried goods from the island’s food supply. Clothing, including jackets stored for inmates, was sent to relief centers.
The writer, Corey Kilgannon, didn’t portray the story as a “Thanksgiving story,” but that’s part of what made it a good “Thanksgiving story.” Kilgannon didn’t have to sell the story; it sold itself.
The Op-Ed, humor and political columnist Gail Collins delivered another winner with a column titled “The Turkey Chronicles.” With a headline like that and Collins at the controls, you can be pretty sure you’re in for a good read.
Collins cast the column in the form of a Q and A, in which she supplies both the questions and the answers. Here’s a sample:
Q — I’m not sure I want to quit talking about the election. I really liked watching the Republicans denouncing Mitt Romney, and going hehehe under my breath.
A — Time to let go. If you are a Republican, be thankful it’s the end. If you were rooting for President Obama, give thanks that your particular demographic group was responsible for his win. We have excellent statistical evidence that it was Hispanics who made all the difference. And also blacks, gays, young people, unmarried people and and women. If any of you had bolted, next year Mitt Romney would be pardoning the turkey.
How about this headline from an Arts section music review: “Flouting Flute Convention, Flautists Flute en Masse.”
That’s one you have to think about for a while…I say give that copy editor an extra helping of stuffing to keep his or her brain functioning at that level!
And, finally, consider this excerpt from an editorial, titled “When Thursday Vanishes,” at the bottom of the editorial page.
“Over the years, we have come to love the fixedness of Thanksgiving. Always on a Thursday, by proclamation, this holiday is unmindful of anyone’s inconvenience. Even Christmas Day must fall on a weekend some years, but never Thanksgiving. It causes as much fuss as possible — a stir that disrupts the entire week, year after year. Yet when the last of the guests have arrived and everyone is seated at the table, there comes a pause, a toast, a grace — long or short secular or sacred, vocal or silent — that says what this holiday is for. Thursday vanishes, and it its place Thanksgiving.”
So, let’s give thanks for all our blessings today…including the First Amendment and a long line of great newspapers, which have kept us informed and in contact with our community, our country and our world.