“So I go to my NYT app, and oddly find no mention of this extraordinary near massacre…”


Read this. For those of us doing the work we do, this is quite typical, but for the uninformed and misinformed, it is a shocker:

I just came back from a book tour in Italy, where I’d no access to English-language TV news. So over my last breakfast, in Piacenza, my editor related the horrifying story dominating the Italian headlines. The day before, an ethnic Senegalese bus driver had kidnapped the 51 12-year-olds in his charge and poured petrol down the vehicle’s center aisle. He forced the three other adults to bind the kids’ wrists with zip ties. He confiscated everyone’s phones. Yet one student snatched a phone the driver missed. The child surreptitiously rang his mother, who contacted the police. When the cops corralled the bus, the driver rammed their cars. After carabinieri forced open the bus door and broke a back window to begin to release the children, the immigrant ignited the petrol. The bus went up in flames. The children managed narrowly to escape, as the bus cremated to a black shell. The driver claimed to be protesting against migrant deaths in the Mediterranean.
When later that day I return home to London, my husband mentions that he’s seen the story in the breaking news section of the New York Times website. So I go to my NYT app, and oddly find no mention of this extraordinary near massacre. I resort to the website: absolutely nothing on the paper’s long, extensive home page — where I note that the vandalizing of five Birmingham mosques (ugly, but at least life and limb were never at risk) enjoys pride of place up top. I go separately to the ‘world news’ section. I scan down about 20 articles. Nothing. But a button at the bottom says ‘more’. I hit that. Several more articles down I finally locate ‘Italian driver sets school bus on fire after kidnapping students’.
And get this! After two tiny, one-sentence paragraphs sketchily thumb-nailing the incident, the article spends all but one of the following six paragraphs detailing the terrible statistics for migrant deaths in the Med, effectively making the driver’s case for him. We only get the full lowdown on what happened beyond the article’s midway point. You get the gist: the New York Times didn’t like this story, didn’t find it politically convenient, and buried it the digital equivalent of six feet under.
Yet since we’re dwelling in the realm of the counterfactual this week, imagine the same news item with the roles reversed. A white, right-wing, native-Italian Salvini–supporter kidnaps 51 black immigrant children to protest against migration from North Africa, has the kids tied up, attempts to burn all the children alive, and very nearly succeeds. Now. Where does the Times put this story, and how hard is it to find‘?


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