It was Elbert Hubbard who defined "Editor: a person employed by a newspaper, whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed." This week, our local paper, the Press-Citizen, pointed out that placement of chaff counts too.
For instance, we have had over 30 assaults on women in the Iowa City community which, while there was a story about an information forum about it on the front page, it was under the fold. This means, if you walk down the street and look at the headlines in a newspaper box, you wouldn't have known this was more important than a UI group canceling a corn on the cob eat-off or Iowa State Bank (& Trust) changing its name.
Now the layout editor might saw it was matter of size than priority, but, when 1/4 of the top of the front page is given up to advertising, well, it makes it hard to report anything but feel good stories in that space.
Today, the same paper used 1/2 of the upper fold to ask the very important question "are you ready for the Iowa-Iowa State game?"--and then placed a story about women being afraid to walk home alone below it--albeit with the headline above the fold.
I understand that newspapers are going the way of the 8-track player, for the younger generation tends to get their news from Comedy Central than columnists. Be that as it may, for the rest of us that actually read papers for local news, it is often disappointing.