yank away ben johnson's goldmedal and you'll get an obituary in the New York Times. But give Christine Cagney a shoulder to cry on each week and the editors will look the other way.On Saturday, a full obituary for Canadian Olympic official Carol Anne Letheren ran in the venerable New York paper.
In addition to the usual information, the piece detailed her "forthright handling of one of the most embarrassing scandals in the history of the Olympic Games" -- sprinter Ben Johnson's positive test for anabolic steroids after he won the 100-metre dash at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
But last month not even a single word was written in the Times about the death of actor Al Waxman.
"We get hundreds of obituaries that are never printed,' explains Claiborne Ray, the paper's daily obituary editor. "There's no agenda whatsoever. It's a matter of news judgment and space available. The question we always ask is, "Did the person make news in our paper during his or her lifetime?''
Ray must have forgotten that the New York City police department made Waxman an honourary lieutenant in 1986 for his portrayal of Lieutenant Bert Samuels in the TV series Cagney & Lacey.
Despite the Times' neglect, news of Waxman's death appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.
It even made it into a paper on the other side of the Atlantic: London's Independent ran an 800-plus-word obituary.