Back when I was a 20-something newspaper reporter, I asked an older and wiser co-worker (I think he must have been at least 30) to explain to me how editors decide which story to place at the top of the front page.
Those were the days before news started going electronic — an age when nearly all newspapers actually had pages made of paper (a thin sheet of processed tree pulp) with words printed in ink. Even many people under 50 got their news that way back then.
Editors picked what they thought was the highest-impact news of the day — the story local readers most likely would drop a quarter into a vending machine to read or remember when their home delivery subscriptions came up for renewal.
My older and wiser co-worker told me he suspected the decisions were based on two criteria: 1. emotional pull of the content and 2. the distance from the editor’s desk to the event.
He said both criteria could be mathematically determined with…