One of the things you learn, if you spend as many years in the news business as I have, is that the news is not random. That is to say, the question of what stories will appear on the front page of the New York Times is not merely matter of what happened the day before, because all kinds of things happen every day, and there is only so much space on the front page of a paper. Actual choices have to be made, by human beings called “editors,” to determine what’s front-page news, what gets stuck back on Page A14, and what never gets reported at all.

The process of deciding what is “news” is not random, as I say, even though some events are of such unquestioned importance that they must be at the top of the front page. If you picked up any American newspaper on Sept. 12, 2001, this was rather obvious, but such historic events are rare, and on most days the question of what goes on A1 leaves a fair amount of leeway to the editors to make their own choices. There may be one or two stories of such unquestioned importance that they must be on the front page, but when it comes to the rest — Story 3, Story 4, Story 5, etc. — the editor’s have more room to exercise discretion.

Trust me, there is often a lot internal disagreement over such things.

Read the whole thing.