Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Construction Worker Who Died on the Job Deserved More from the Post

Tabloid newspapers achieve greatness when they find the drama in ordinary people's lives: the crossing guard who jumps in front of a moving car to save a child, the quiet neighbor who commits a murder, the long-lost lovers reunited by chance. That's why it was infuriating to see today's New York Post devote its front page to Britney Spears when the Daily News recognized the more important story of the day: the death of Ukrainian immigrant worker, married with children, in an accident at a Trump construction site.

The Post's claim to represent the working people of New York always rested on the dubious premise that right-wing politics and celebrity news are just what regular folks want. Of course, Post readers are quite capable of seeing through that game. But the paper's editors owe them more.

As the Post, News and Times (which put the story on the front page of its Metro section) all noted, the job site in Soho where the man died has a history of violations. Worse, as the Times pointed out, one of the subcontractors on the job has mob connections.

Construction is dangerous work. In age when labor is little honored in our politics and culture, a story that illuminates dangers on the job--and their human cost--deserves front-page coverage. Especially in a paper that claims to represent the average New Yorker.

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