The New York Times remains a deeply influential institution in American life. 

To be sure, there has been considerable angst about the continuing relevance, or even viability, of newspapers in the digital age. A few years ago, a notable documentary called “Page One” explored this issue as it affected the Times.

But even as platforms turn increasingly electronic, the New York Times has retained its role as an important arbiter of informed opinion. And so, when the Times turns its attention to violent crime in the St. Louis area, it is worth paying attention. And that is what we will do in this post.

The Times recently devoted considerable space on its coveted front page to a piece on crime problems on St. Louis’s North Side.

The paper depicted people on the North Side as caught in a vicious, self-perpetuating circle of crime and poverty, with drugs and gun violence making the streets unsafe.

In response, city officials asserted that the article in the Times, though factually accurate, was one-sided. The chief of staff for Mayor Francis Slay said the article “leaves people with the wrong impression of St. Louis and north St. Louis.”

Clearly the attention from the Times comes at a key time. The city of St. Louis has only recently regained control of its police force from the state of Missouri. And, as we discussed in our October 29 post, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson has proposed an ambitious plan to reorganize police districts in the city.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “New York Times focuses on crime in north St. Louis as city seeks to change image,” Nicholas J.C. Pistor, Nov. 20, 2013