Martin Luther King, Jr., by the New York Times

Having urged everyone to buy today’s Daily News because of its extraordinary and moving commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr., I now urge you all to read what, in part, the New York Times has done to honor Dr. King: a detailed, pulsing article about how the paper covered the assassination, starting with the estimable NYT reporter Earl Caldwell, to whom the Daily News gives prominence.

But there’s something more the Times has done here. It has offered us a dynamic portrait of a great newspaper doing what it does greatly: deliver a big news story.

Ever since I started working on How I Learned the Facts of Life*, I’ve paid particular attention to newspapers because, as I have professed, only a major newspaper can deliver the facts.

After making some comment to a tweet noting the contradictions between a piece of information from, first, Mike Pompeo’s CIA and then the New York Times (I wrote something like, “Oh yeah, when given the choice of believing Pompeo’s CIA or the New York Times, I’m going with the Times”), I got attacked by all sorts of people.

“You trust the Times!?!?!?!” was the general tenor. Specific instances of the Times’s wrongful emphases or entirely wrong editorial positions were mentioned. And I agreed with the instances but found it alarming that people would toss an entire newspaper from their fact-gathering reading material for those reasons.

(One comment was prissy and snotty: “It isn’t Mike Pompeo’s CIA. It is the American people’s CIA.” I think I responded but don’t remember how.)

Where were they getting the facts if not from a newspaper? I asked. A couple of people said, “Experts. I get the facts from experts.”

Oh, gee, well, that’s OK, then. Your random expert in…what?

So I recommend today’s New York Times article about how the paper gathered the facts and reported the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It should leave you breathless, and thinking, “This is what a great newspaper does.”

*I started it as a series of blog posts. Now I’m developing How I Learned the Facts of Life into a short book, a primer.

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