New York Times Fills Entire Front Page With Names of Coronavirus Victims

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Though the listed names and obituary blurbs spread throughout the whole front page and continue onto three additional pages, the tribute highlights just 1 percent of the country's total losses.

The New York Times honored the lives lost to the novel coronavirus through a powerful tribute spread on its Sunday front page. 

The newspaper paid tribute to the thousands of lives lost by filling their front page with the names of the victims and parts of their obituaries. The headline read, "U.S. Deaths Near 100,000, an Incalculable Loss," followed by the subheading: "They were not simply names on a list. They were us."

Though the names fill the whole page and continue onto three additional pages, the tribute highlights just 1 percent of the country's total losses. As of Sunday morning, the newspaper reports that the total number of deaths is nearing 100,000 as at least 97,059 people have died from COVID-19, the illness related to the novel coronavirus. 

Simone Landon, assistant editor of the Times' Graphics desk, said she wanted the front page to represent the number of losses in a way that "conveyed both the vastness and the variety of lives lost." 

“We knew we were approaching this milestone,” she said in the NY Times story "The Project Behind a Front Page Full of Names" — the newspaper published the story to explain how the tribute came evolved. “We knew that there should be some way to try to reckon with that number." 

In order to find names of the victims, Alain Delaquérière, a Times researcher, relied on sources online for obituaries and death notices with COVID-19 written as the cause of death. He compiled a list of nearly a thousand names from hundreds of newspapers. Of their process to create the tribute, the Times stated that a team of editors and three graduate student journalists, read them and collected phrases that depicted the uniqueness of each life lost. 

An example of their listing reads, "Coby Adolph, 44, Chicago, entrepreneur and adventurer." Only the text of each name and obituary blurb was used. The pages did not include any images. 

Chief Creative Officer Tom Bodkin, who has been with the newspaper for 40 years, said this was the only time he recalls no images being used on the front page. "This is certainly a first in modern times." 

Marc Lacey, National editor, said the tribute was aimed to be something that "people would look back on in 100 years to understand the toll of what we’re living through."

The front page of the Times proved to catch attention, as photos of the page generated responses from a myriad of Hollywood figures. 

"Words cannot begin to do this image justice," wrote actor Josh Gad. "My heart goes out to every single person and very single family who has been affected by this unprecedented event. Love to you all."

"The news is sad every day but today’s paper made me stop in my tracks...," said Andy Cohen, who recovered from COVID-19 after revealing his positive diagnosis in March. 

Actress Tracee Ellis Ross described the page as a "sobering" and "devastating reality." " My prayers go out to families and loved ones who have suffered these losses," she wrote on her Instagram.

Ava DuVernay also mentioned the front page on Twitter. "When you love someone in this number, every mention, joke, meme, gif, fundraiser, op-ed, political speech hits differently and hurts deeply. God bless all these souls. And all their families and friends who weep for them and wonder why the world doesn’t understand how we feel," she wrote.

The front page comes in wake of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo stating that the trend of deaths related to the virus has gone down. Cuomo said because of the significant drop, the state is now "decidedly in the reopening phase." With state beaches open, Cuomo announced that campgrounds will open Monday. Cuomo also announced that teams in his state can return to their facilities for training after a pause of more than two months. 

On Saturday, 109 people died across the state from COVID-19, Cuomo said during his press conference Sunday. There were 84 deaths Friday.