The other night, some of my friends and I were discussing Doris Day -- I think her birthday was recently and she'd been all over the news -- and how much attention it would get when she died. (One of them said he had it on good authority that she is gravely ill.) One said she was "New York Times, above the fold" material, citing her as the bridge between Old Hollywood and today. Another kept insisting she was on par with Mitzi Gaynor these days, and that her death would not be any bigger. (Naturally, I agreed with the former rather than the millennial latter, who if he's going to know who Mitzi Gaynor is should also show Doris proper respect.) Years before this, some colleagues of mine at the New York Times and I were debating who was a bigger star: Petula Clark or Dusty Springfield. We all kind of agreed Clark was, but that Dusty's death would get better newspaper placement because she was far more influential. All of this is a very long lead up to saying it's really interesting seeing how Merle Haggard's death was covered by newspapers around the country today. I see the Arizona Republic, my hometown paper and former employer, gave him a full-on spread, almost bigger than you would a former president. Ditto for the L.A. Times. The Gray Lady and Washington Post also paid great, if slightly more restrained, respect. The tabloids and the freebies gave him no Page 1 coverage at all, which kind of shocked me. And the remainder gave him Page 1 refers, although WSJ didn't even give him a hedcut. Nice to see that any slighting Haggard may have received elsewhere was overshadowed by The Tennessean's front page, which was devoted to the legendary Workin' Man.