By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Alexandra Jarrin’s three sons

The New York Times today fronts a heartbreaking story about a “99er” — a formerly successful businesswoman named Alexandra Jarrin who is on the verge of living in her car because her unemployment benefits have run out.

But there’s an undeveloped aside that the reporter, Michael Luo, and his editors shouldn’t have let slip. Near the end, Luo writes: “She says none of her three adult sons are in a position to help her.”

Let’s assume that if we knew why, we’d understand. By letting this loose thread dangle, though, the Times undermines the premise of the entire piece — that Jarrin is suffering solely because of Congress’ failure to extend unemployment benefits.

If the Times wants to pull at our heartstrings, then it ought to tell us why none of Jarrin’s three sons will provide their mother with a place to live.

Update: Sharp-eyed reader Isaac Benjamin notes that Luo has addressed the matter in the comments. I read the story in Times Reader, which does not include comments. And I hear that the Times still publishes a print edition. I hope the paper runs a clarification tomorrow.

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  1. Isaac Benjamin

    I agree with your post — it should have been in the article. But the journalist did comment (it’s the second comment posted) the following, with more explanation:

    Michael Luo
    National correspondent,
    The New York Times
    August 2nd, 2010
    9:57 pm

    Hi Beliavsky, A number of people have asked why Ms. Jarrin’s sons cannot help. One of her sons is in Argentina teaching English; another one is unemployed himself and has been camping out in a tent; she is estranged from the third and has not been in contact with him for some time.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Isaac: I’m glad Luo addressed that. I read the story via Times Reader, which does not include comments. And, of course, there are no comments in the print edition, either. I hope the Times runs a clarification.

  2. Neil Sagan

    What is heartwarming is just how many young lives Glenn Beck has touched with his southern strategy.

    Thanks for this:

  3. Debie Griffith

    This is just one of a millions of Americans in a similar situation with different but similar storys. Her point isn’t that her sons should be taking care of her or that it is congress who should be blamed for hers, mine and millions of others current economic ruin, she is making the point that we are a large portion of Americans that have worked hard all our lives with little or no help from government or family and many of us realize that we are likely to never reach the economic independance we once had again. So, while we continue to fight for a job not career and some how re-group or reposition ourselves to somehow live on $1000 bucks a month (when we find a job) we shouldn’t be kicked to the curb like garbage. I to have been working since I was 14 and now I am 48. I have been divorced for 11 years, put myself through college and had a great job in 2008 and for the first time I was making over 40,000 on my own. I have been looking for employment, in addition to trying to start some kind of a small business but here I sit explaining my situation to people I don’t know which many of you judge me as lazy and believe I will find a job as soon as my benefits run out. And they did. I have never collected food stamps but I will be applying now, I will cut everything I can: cancel my cable tv, park my car and put my car insurance on hold, and o’ya those bills I owe, my medical bills I owe since I have no insurance, my cell phone bill I can no longer pay on, and I filed chapter 11 over a year ago and will not be able to make that monthly payment so it will be dissolved and another dozen of organizations can send me to collections. The only thing that saves me is that only one creditor can garnish a pay check at a time, when I get one. I will be dead before every one gets their money but I will have to live with that for what is remaining of my fabulous life. I realized a few weeks ago that it takes a lot of time to survive when your hanging over the edge.

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