New York Times front page, Sunday May 24 2020
The front page of The New York Times on Sunday, May 24, 2020. (Image: Sipa USA/Richard B. Levine)

Yesterday The New York Times demonstrated the inherent power of newspapers in print with its deliberately anachronistically designed all-text front page under a downplayed single-deck headline “U.S. deaths near 100,000, an incalculable loss”.

It landed with a more metaphorical thud than usual on about 1 million doorsteps on Sunday morning, most of them in greater New York. It has already started dramatically reshaping the way America understands the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s a reminder that as a mass medium print derives its power from that combination of journalism, design and scale. While Australian papers retain the journalism (if not the understated design) the continued decline in print means they no longer have the mass scale to create that impact.