News‘An incalculable loss;’ New York Times’ front page marks...

‘An incalculable loss;’ New York Times’ front page marks heartbreaking US virus milestone


The front page of Sunday’s New York Times has no image, no news headlines, no advertisements whatsoever. Just rows of text stating a one-line obituary of the thousands of victims who lost their lives in the Pandemic in US.

The Times dedicated four pages of their Sunday’s edition – front page and three inside – with one-line obituaries for the 1,000 victims to mark the nation’s approaching 100,000 mortality milestone.

Image showing the front page of NYT’s Sunday edition (Image courtesy of
The New York Times via the New York Times)

An insider report from The Times states the publication wanted to contemplate the numbers in a way that represents both variety and vastness of the lives lost.

“A number is an imperfect measure when applied to the human condition,” the publication writes in their website on a page designed as a memorial to the ‘incalculable’ loss of lives in the US.

“They were not simply names on a list, they were us,” a short intro on the front page reads. “The 1,000 people here reflect just one percent of the toll. None were mere numbers.”

The United States of America is the hardest-hit by the pandemic from any other country in the world with a recorded four million-plus infections. CNN notes that experts believe the death tolls are even greater as many might have died at home, or never counted for some reason.

The Times has also published a digital rendition on their website homepage, titled “US Death Near 100,000, an Incalculable Loss.”

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“A number provides an answer to how many, but it can never convey the individual arcs of life, the 100,000 ways of greeting the good morning and saying the good night,” New York Times writes in a special post on their website.

Simone Landon, assistant editor of the Graphics desk notes that since the pandemic began, with their publication robustly covering the coronavirus, both the NYT-staff and perhaps the general public, she notes, has now reached a point of “fatigue with data.”

“We knew we were approaching this milestone,” Landon told. “We knew that there should be some way to try to reckon with that number,” she added.

So the editors, coupled with some helping hand, pooled names and descriptions of the lives of a thousand victims from hundreds of obituaries, paid death notices, news articles, that appeared on different outlets in the past few months.

And the outcome was as beautiful as it could get. Rows of texts with one-line stating the uniqueness of the lost lives, like these:

Lila Fenwick, 87, was “the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Law.”

April Dunn, 33, was an “advocate for disability rights.”

Florencio Almazo Morán, 65, was a “one-man army … ”

Harley E. Acker, 79, “discovered his true calling when he started driving a school bus.”

Philip Kahn, 100, “World War II veteran whose twin died in the Spanish Flu epidemic a century ago.”

A Times reporter and columnist, Dan Barry, in a short essay in Sunday’s NYT edition writes:

“Imagine a city of 100,000 residents that was here for New Year’s Day but has now been wiped from the American map.”

(Cover image courtesy of The New York Times via New York Times)


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