The New York Times did something on Saturday that it has not done for nearly a century: it put an editorial on its front page.
The impetus for this virtually unprecedented move was the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.
Editorials appear so rarely on the front page of the paper because it is typically seen as the domain of the news department, which is run entirely separately from the opinion department. The last time such a thing happened was in 1920, when the Times (unsuccessfully) called for Warren Harding not to be nominated for president.
But Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. said in a statement that the seemingly endless spate of gun violence in America had prompted him to make the move:
"It has been many decades since The Times ran an editorial on Page One. We do so today to deliver a strong and visible statement of frustration and anguish about our country’s inability to come to terms with the scourge of guns. Even in this digital age, the front page remains an incredibly strong and powerful way to surface issues that demand attention. And, what issue is more important than our nation’s failure to protect its citizens?"
In the editorial, the Times says that "it is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency."
At least one Times staffer, Trip Gabriel, tweeted that the editorial's placement would bolster the paper's critics who accuse it of being suffused with liberal bias.