'The New York Times' Dedicated Its Entire Front Page To COVID-19 Victims

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 
New York Times front page COVID victims
The New York Times

The cover shares just a few stories of the almost 100,000 lives lost to COVID-19

The front page of the New York Times today is a sobering sight to behold. The paper dedicated the entire page to those who have lost their lives to the coronavirus as the death toll in the U.S. approaches 100,000.

The typical front cover of the iconic paper is usually filled with photographs, articles, or graphics — and while the front page has covered the coronavirus pandemic for months — this is the first of its kind to feature only names. Names of nearly 1,000 victims and their partial obituaries — just a fraction of the total lives lost globally due to COVID-19.

“We knew we were approaching this milestone,” Simone Landon, assistant editor of the graphics desk, said of approaching 100,000 deaths. “We knew that there should be some way to try to reckon with that number.”

As they grappled with how to represent such a number, the team decided graphics alone “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,” Landon said. They eventually landed on compiling obituaries and death notices of victims from newspapers around the country to give a bit of insight into how they lived and those who were impacted by their death.

The U.S. death toll stands at more than 97,000, the highest in the world, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker; and it will likely reach the 100,000 mark within the next couple of days.

Tom Bodkin, the New York Times‘ chief creative officer, said the all-text cover was a first for him, and that he couldn’t remember another front page without an image in his 40-year career. “This is certainly a first in modern times,” Bodkin said.

The Times also published an interactive piece that allows readers to scroll down for the names and their accompanying descriptive phrases. As readers scroll, they’ll also notice a date and its number of reported deaths. The interactive piece is also paired with an essay written by Times reporter and columnist Dan Barry.

In a preface to today’s paper, the New York Times wrote: “Numbers alone cannot possibly measure the impact of the coronavirus in America, whether it is the number of patients treated, jobs interrupted or lives cut short. As the country nears a grim milestone of 100,000 deaths attributed to the virus, the New York Times sourced obituaries and death notices of the victims.”

Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.

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