One week after The New York Times launched a new, thinner version of the paper, the resulting space crunch has claimed one of its first victims: the "quartre-sexual."
On Sunday morning, the legendary big-band leader, talk-show host, and game-show innovator Merv Griffin died at a hospital in Los Angeles after battling with prostate cancer. Shortly thereafter, The Times’ posted a comprehensive obituary of Mr. Griffin on the paper’s Web site. Towards the end of the piece, the Web version included this:
Mr. Griffin consistently evaded answering questions about his sexuality. In a 2005 interview with The New York Times, he said: "I tell everybody that I’m a quartre-sexual. I will do anything with anybody for a quarter."
But on Monday morning, when the piece appeared in the print edition, the memorable quote was nowhere to be found. Instead the piece read simply:
Mr. Griffin consistently evaded answering questions about his sexuality, often joking about it.
So what happened to the actual joke?
Reached by phone on Monday, Bill McDonald, the Times’ obituaries editor, confirmed that the quote had been truncated in order to squeeze the Web version of the story into the slimmed-down pages of the paper.
"We’ve been asked to tighten up stories, throughout," said Mr. McDonald. "That’s true of the entire paper. Many of these obituaries were written in advance in a time when we had more space. So we have to do some cutting. That’s just a reality of newspaper life."
It’s just a question of which stuff to cut. Rest in peace, Merv Griffin, quartre-sexual.