October 31, 2008

A future for front page? It’s all in the magic

By Kate Kennedy

Each day, streams of people pause along Pennsylvania Avenue to gaze at newspaper front pages displayed outside the Newseum.

They read. They laugh; they frown. They nod in agreement; they shake their heads in disbelief. They share; they connect.

But mostly, they linger.

Circulation is declining, and free content on the Internet is booming. But yet, few things can be as personal as a newspaper front page. “Where’s my page?” we’re often asked.

Sometimes the front page is predictable. Often it’s overly gloomy. And in too many cases, it’s inconsistent.

But every day it has an opportunity to touch people by:

Sharing what people are talking about: “They never thought they’d see the day,” the Detroit Free Press said today about African-Americans’ feelings about Barack Obama’s run for the White House. And the Los Angeles Times looks at “One more role for the cellphone: matchmaker.”

Seeing the big picture: With its state in an economic crisis and its governor in a scandal, the Las Vegas Sun examined the state of the state: “Nevada Turns 144, But What’s To Celebrate?” But not forgetting important details: The San Francisco Chronicle pursued police documents that showed “Missed opportunities hours before slaying” of the editor of the Oakland Post.

Looking beyond the headlines: In a different kind of election story, The Denver Post reported on “A risky conversation.” Said the Post: “Politics naturally divides people, but this election cycle has highlighted the divide. Now, simply talking about the presidential candidates seems like a wedge issue.”

Providing news that readers can’t get anywhere else: The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., noted that late Wednesday night its city matched its record for the number of homicides in a year. And owning what they know: “Shuttle set for Nov. 14 liftoff,” said Florida Today in Melbourne, which swamps the space beat.

Writing good headlines: “We Shopped Till We Dropped,” the Star Tribune of Minneapolis said in summarizing GDP data. “Plumb Job,” said the New York Post with a photo of Joe the Plumber on the campaign trail. And in writing a label headline that actually works, the Houston Chronicle described the path of a high school football team: “From Cream Puff to Cinderella.”

Presenting good stories and images: In an eye-catching “To Catch a Cyber-Thief” presentation, the Kitsap Sun in Bremerton, Wash., said: “A Bainbridge Island couple recovered a stolen $2,700 bicycle through sting tactics — online and with police.”

Taking a different look: Halloween stories are everywhere today, but The Post-Crescent of Appleton, Wis., breathed new life into a stale story with Rob Kaiser’s “Houdini works his magic” column about “Legendary artist offers lesson on escaping troubles.” Harry Houdini, who lived in Appleton, died on Halloween 1926.

What will the future hold for the front page? Will it escape its troubles? To editors, I’d say: Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow, but don’t stop thinking about print.

Make me laugh. Make me cry. Move me to share my opinion. Move me to take action. Make me want to pick up tomorrow’s front page.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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October 30, 2008

World champs, not worldwide coverage

By Bridget Gutierrez

Newspaper editors in the mid-Atlantic region had a field day with their front pages after the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3, last night to win baseball’s World Series.

Devoting its cover to a staff photograph of the closing pitcher and catcher in an exuberant bear hug, the Philadelphia Daily News exclaimed: “FROM CURSED TO FIRST … SEND IN THE CROWN!”

The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., and the Burlington County Times in Willingboro, N.J., dedicated the entire page to the event. The layout was different, the headline the same: “Phinally!” (Props to The Morning Call for using the team’s signature script.)

“WORLD CHAMPS!” declared The Philadelphia Inquirer, which gave the top two-thirds of Page One to the victory and one spectacular photograph capturing pitcher Brad Lidge’s and catcher Carlos Ruiz’s joy at winning. The subhead: “28 years later, Phillies again are baseball’s best.”

Nearby, the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, N.J., announced: “WE DID IT!” — saving the particulars for six pages of game coverage inside.

The Press in Atlantic City, N.J., The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., and The Times-Tribune in Scranton, Pa., made the news their daily centerpiece. The Press incorporated a story and photo of celebrating fans, who apparently braved the cold and riots — yikes! — outside the ballpark. The News Journal smartly included a celebratory photograph from the Phillies’ last World Series win in 1980. It’s been a long time, boys.

Of course, there’s another side to the story. Interestingly, The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune and competitor St. Petersburg Times provided similar coverage of their team’s loss by pairing a single front-page photograph and sports column.

“MAGIC ENDS,” reads the Times headline about the amazing worst-to-first team. “Rays’ miracle season is now just great memories.” Not to mention a few front pages.

Bridget Gutierrez is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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October 29, 2008

Reporting on the Dow: Does
what goes up must come down?

By Kate Kennedy

Is the glass half full or half empty?

Newspaper front pages couldn’t decide today as they reported on a rally that added 889 points to the Dow.

“Optimism sends stock soaring,” the San Francisco Chronicle said across its front page. “Dow takes stunning jump — 2nd-best ever,” The Denver Post said.

The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., charted the upturn inside its nameplate. The Boston Globe explained how it happened: “Bargain hunters pounce amid signs of credit thaw.”

Like many, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel charted the stock market’s gain. But it said: “Dow soars — but hold applause.” Explained The Gazette of Colorado Spring, Colo.: “Soaring Dow is Simply Another Day of Volatility.”

Indeed, The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., said, “Rocketing Dow fails to spread much joy.” “Wall Street on edge despite Dow’s surge,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted.

The Wall Street Journal charted “Mixed Signals” — the Dow rebound and a decline in consumer confidence. The Indianapolis Star gave the stock market an up arrow but used a down arrow to describe consumers’ mood.

The Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star was one newspaper that was both optimistic and pessimistic: “Stocks surge 889 points,” the lead headline said. “But analysts don’t expect rally to last in this volatile market.”

In advance of today’s expected cut in the interest rate by the Fed, The Miami Herald said: “Cut in rate to take aim at pessimism.”

Today’s campaign news: The Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader described a “A whinnying ticket.” Horse owners through the thoroughbred registry, it reports, are reserving such names as “Joe the Plumber” and “First Dude.”

Speaking of Joe, he’s on the campaign trail, reports The Cincinnati Enquirer, which printed a photo of Joe Wurzelbacher stumping for the McCain-Palin ticket in southwest Ohio.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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October 28, 2008

Some dailies play up Stevens’
conviction; others put story inside

By Gene Mater

It took a federal jury to do it but the newspaper of record — The New York Times — and the major daily in the nation’s capital — The Washington Post — agree that the conviction of Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska tops the economy and the election as THE story of the day.

“Stevens found guilty on 7 counts,” reports the Post, and “Senator is guilty over his failures to disclose gifts,” reports the Times in their lead stories this morning. The smaller capital daily, The Washington Times, banners “Stevens guilty on all 7 counts.”

In Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News has a two-line banner head reading “Stevens guilty on all counts: ‘It’s not over yet,’ he says.”

For the rest of the nation’s dailies, there was varied coverage of the verdict in the trial of the Senate’s longest-serving Republican. Stevens is the fifth U.S. senator ever convicted of a crime, and his name is on next Tuesday’s ballot. The Philadelphia Inquirer leads with a one-column headline “Alaska’s Stevens is found guilty,” while The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., West Hawaii Today in Kailua Kona, and The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., all felt the story worth top-of-Page-One play. Then the story fades away from some Page One stories to teases to nothing.

The Los Angeles Times has an above-the-fold picture and story that “Corruption conviction doesn’t daunt Stevens,” the Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune has the story at the bottom of the page, as do the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Gazette-Times in Corvallis, Ore., the Great Falls (Mont.) Tribune, The Lewiston (Idaho) Tribune, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Detroit News and The Denver Post.

Then there were dailies that teased an inside story about Stevens, starting with our friends at The Monitor in McAllen, Texas, with photo and tease next to the masthead, as high up as possible without going off Page One. The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., runs a tease and photo at the bottom of the page, The Boston Globe does it at the top of column one, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald do it in the middle of that column, while The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., teases at the top of the page next to the lead story.

The longest list would be of the U.S. dailies carrying nothing about Stevens on Page One. At least we didn’t see any maps showing where to find Alaska.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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October 27, 2008

Middle East squeezed off Page One
by politics, economic mess, sports

By Gene Mater

Have you noticed that the upcoming election, the world economic situation and the World Series and other sporting activities have pretty much squeezed U.S. involvement in the Middle East off Page One? Three Middle East stories broke during the weekend that may have missed the front page of your local newspaper.

“U.S. launches rare attack inside Syria” is the headline on the lead story of The Charleston Gazette in West Virginia, ”US special forces hit Syria” is squared off at the top of American Press in Lake Charles, La., and “U.S. raid kills eight in Syrian territory,” Cape Cod Times in Hyannis, Mass., tells its readers. The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y., combines the headlines of the first two dailies with “U.S. kills eight in rare attack inside Syria,” while the Los Angeles Times suggests that “U.S. raid in Syria raises tensions.”

The story is at the bottom of Page One of the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle, The Cincinnati (Ohio) Enquirer and The Herald Journal in Logan, Utah. It leads The Birmingham News in Alabama and is the tease for “Today’s Quick Read” in the Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record and is teased in the Chicago Tribune.

Then there is the U.S. threat to Iraq to make a deal or, as The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., puts it in the lead story “U.S. vows to cut off Iraq if no new deal.” The Idaho Statesman in Boise squares off “U.S, gives ‘shocking’ threat to Iraq,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel gives similar play to the story with “U.S. warns Iraq on deal” and The Columbian in Vancouver, Wash., reports, “U.S. threatens Iraq with withdrawal.”

Finally, the third story. The biggest daily in this country — USA Today — leads with unhappy news for the troops abroad and their families — “Extended war tours likely to continue” through 2009 in spite of pledges made earlier. The story was picked up here and there. Indeed, out in Iowa, the Iowa City Press-Citizen plays up the story with the same headline noted for USA Today.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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October 24, 2008

Former Fed chairman takes
his lumps on front pages

By John Maynard

A close-up picture of a dour-looking Alan Greenspan sporting a severe hangdog expression is the lead photo on many of today's front pages this morning.

And you wonder why people aren't buying newspapers.

The former Federal Reserve chairman appeared before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill yesterday and was at the receiving end of criticism from some members of Congress who blamed his economic policies for the financial mess we are in today.

"Alan Greenspan — Called on the Carpet," is the headline in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette featuring not one, not two, but thee closeups of Greenspan, looking more and more miserable as the photos progress.

The Dallas Morning News went one way with its assessment: "'I made a mistake,' Greenspan admits," while The Columbian in Vancouver, Wash., opted for a different interpretation: "Greenspan: Don't blame me for mess."

The Lima (Ohio) News, which goes with a photo that can only be described as an extreme close-up, sums it up in more neutral terms. "Flaw in the model," the headline says in reference to Greenspan's admission that mistakes were made during his 18 years of service.

Meanwhile, some papers are looking at presidential polls in their states. Barack Obama may have the lead in many places, including key battleground states, but don't tell that to the folks in Kentucky or Arkansas. "McCain's lead in state is safe," blares the Lexington Herald-Leader. The Morning News in Fayetteville, Ark., also shows John McCain leading Obama in a story under the headline "Poll Gives State Pulse."

But it's too close to call in Montana according to the Great Falls Tribune, which asks "Montana: Red or Blue?"

In Connecticut, the New Haven Register cautions against poll-watching under the banner headline "Polls Apart" with an AP story looking at dueling results of recent major polls.

John Maynard is a Newseum exhibits writer.

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October 23, 2008

There’s Page One news besides
the economy and the election

By Gene Mater

They did it again. They being the stock markets; again being yesterday’s precipitous drop. We decided to look for non-economic and non-election stories this morning, stories such as “1st snowfall brings 6 inches to The County” that tops Page One for the Bangor Daily News up in Maine, our friends at The Monitor in McAllen, Texas, playing up the fifth anniversary of the Dodge Arena with a story, photos and numbers, even as The Tampa Tribune in Florida whoops up “The World’s Stage” and the World Series game at Tropicana Field.

The Honolulu Advertiser tells its readers that “Traffic better, but still worst in nation,” while The Times in Munster, Ind., reports that a voter-registration drive (there’s the election story) is one of the “Worst in the nation” and the Chicago Tribune dug out its second-coming type for the number 13%, adding that “The governor’s approval rating among Illinois voters is even lower than Bush’s.” The Duluth News Tribune in Minnesota uses much of Page One to report about “Our bridge to nowhere,” with a story noting the county “spent $48,000 to restore a bridge, then placed it over a storm water pond.” The Herald Times Reporter in Manitowoc, Wis., reports on “WWII through one man’s eyes,” thereby localizing the last good war, while The San Diego Union-Tribune does the same about the suicide bomber who killed more than 200 in “Beirut blast still resounds” and the Leader-Telegram in Eau Claire, Wis., reports about a local National Guard unit “Reporting for duty.” The Idaho Statesman in Boise plays up the “Results of the Idaho Outdoors/Idaho Camera photo contest,” complete with a pleasant picture on Page One, while The Dominion Post in Morgantown, W.Va., reports with story and photos about “Mom makes human a shield at bus stop” because “some folks aren’t stopping” when school buses flash their red lights.

We’ll mention only one first page about the economy. It’s the Chicago Sun-Times reporting “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry,” reporting the good news about gas prices dropping and the bad news about “Financial markets predicting the worst of all worlds.” That leads us to our first prize for today’s Page One. India has just sent a rocket to the moon. The banner headline in The Telegraph in Calcutta says it all: “TO MOON: Right now, it looks a better place than our Earth.”

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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October 22, 2008

More than election news
in your local newspaper

By Gene Mater

Watch television and the upcoming election seems to be the big story that we all care about. Not so. Indeed, we started the day skipping through the European dailies, but we found precious little U.S. election coverage. Jurnal de Caras-Severin in colorful Resita, Romania, has a small picture of John McCain, but it’s only to tease a story on Page 2. Our friends at SME in Bratislava, Slovakia, have a large Page One photo of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. But that’s about it for Europe, so we turned to U.S. coverage.

The Anniston Star in Alabama plays up “Area gas prices finally return to lower levels,” and the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska squares off at the top of Page One the trial of the senior U.S. senator, wondering “Which Stevens will jury judge?” The Arizona Daily Star in Tucson grumbles that “we’re all paying more” in taxes, while The Sentinel-Record in Hot Springs, Ark., gives major play, with photo, to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra playing for students. The Sun in San Bernardino, Calif., leads with plans for a new 12-story court building, the Connecticut Post in Bridgeport whoops up the tried-and-true picture of “Elephants on parade” and the circus coming to town, and Florida Today in Melbourne puts possible re-starting of the Hubble telescope in space at the top of the page and the birth of twin jaguars at the bottom. The South Bend Tribune in Indiana uses the top of its Page One to ask whether “Consumers addicted to plastic?” — credit cards, that is.

The Iowa City (Iowa) Press-Citizen has a colorful “Colors of fall” Page One reporting on leaf-turning time, The Kentucky Enquirer in Fort Mitchell warns that “Some firms refusing to hire smokers,” the Times Herald in Port Huron, Mich., confirms to its readers what they probably know, that “Roads make ‘worst’ list,” and the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y., uses most of Page One for a picture and a story about “SUV stolen, abandoned with 3-year-old inside.”

Finally, two dailies play up local library censorship problems. The Gazette-Times in Corvallis, Ore., tells its readers that “Library items raise eyebrows,” warning that “Not even Muppets safe from patron complaints,” while the Independent Record in Helena, Mont., reports “Library board votes to keep controversial book on hand,” and the book is The Joy of Gay Sex.

If you’re looking for an escape from all the election coverage, read your local newspaper.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Form media consultant.

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October 21, 2008

Two weeks and counting:
Crisscrossing contested states

By Kate Kennedy

With two weeks to go until the presidential election, pivotal states are getting additional attention from the campaigns. And the campaigning is drawing the attention of the front page.

Colorado: Sarah Palin campaigned in the state Monday and labeled “Obama a socialist,” the Fort Collins Coloradoan said. The Rocky Mountain News, which is not endorsing a candidate for president, pictured the vice presidential candidate and said, “Fight to the finish.”

Florida: The South Florida Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale mapped the travels of the candidates and their surrogates in the Sunshine State: “For now, they all just love Florida.” Hillary Clinton appeared with Barack Obama, who called for “’Jobs, Baby, Jobs,’” said the Orlando Sentinel, which has endorsed Obama. The Tampa Tribune, which endorsed John McCain, pictured Obama with members of the Tampa Bay Rays, who introduced him at a rally.

Missouri: “Vote seekers blitz tossed-up state,” said the Springfield News-Leader, which is endorsing state and local candidates but not a candidate in the presidential race. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch called it “Marching Across Missouri” and noted that McCain was Monday’s visitor. It has endorsed Obama.

Pennsylvania: “McCain is pulling out all the stops in Pa.,” said The Philadelphia Inquirer, which has endorsed Obama. But the bigger focus in some places is the World Series-bound Phillies.

Meanwhile, The Honolulu Advertiser reported that Obama is returning to Hawaii Thursday to visit his grandmother, who is ill.

Early voting got under way in many places. “First day totals for early voting reach new heights across area,” said the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, which has endorsed Obama. “Early voting center opens in Fargo/Auditor predicts more than 4,000 to use site during the next 2 weeks,” said The Forum, which endorsed McCain.

The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk noted heightened emotions about the election and reported, “Some cities to tighten Election Day security.”

Wasted in Wisconsin: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is examining alcohol use in the Badger State in a five-part series that includes 72 profiles of victims of drunken driving. Today’s package outlined the tab for one drunken driver’s 10 offenses. The newspaper’s Web site includes an interactive graphic and a chat about the state’s drinking culture.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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October 20, 2008

Football, politics, baseball
compete for headlines

By Hicks Wogan

Whatever other news is breaking, on Mondays in the fall you can expect front pages across the country to tackle pro football. Yesterday the National Football League played 13 headline-grabbing games.

In St. Louis the Dallas Cowboys played without their starting quarterback, Tony Romo, and, man, did they look lost. The Rams battered them 34-14, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch heralded the win with the headline, “Suddenly Potent Rams Stun Cowboys.” The Dallas Morning News sang of “St. Louis Blues.”

The Carolina Panthers shredded the New Orleans Saints, 30-7, and The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer boasts with a front-page banner that plays on a New Orleans nickname: “Big Easy Win.”

In Chicago the hometown Bears outgunned the Minnesota Vikings, 48-41. “O” is for Offense and this morning, on the cover of a 12-page “Bears Extra” section, the Chicago Sun-Times exclaims, “‘O’ My!” Da Bears intercepted Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte four times, and the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune announces above its nameplate that “Vikings Crumble.”

“Chargers Short-Circuited in Buffalo,” reads The San Diego (Calif.) Union-Tribune after the local team lost to the Bills. With the 23-14 win, Buffalo improved its record to 5-1.

The NFL’s only undefeated team, the Tennessee Titans, rushed for a franchise-record 332 yards on Sunday and destroyed the Kansas City Chiefs, 48-10. “Mighty Titans stay perfect,” notes The Tennessean of Nashville. The team moved to 6-0.

Oakland Raiders placekicker Sebastian Janikowski bombed a 57-yard field goal to beat the New York Jets in overtime. Across the Bay, the San Francisco Chronicle has a clever headline: “Raiders Give Jets the Boot.” But not so sure-footed were the Cleveland Browns, who missed a late field goal to hand a 14-11 victory to the Washington Redskins. The ‘Skins were led by Clinton Portis’s 175 yards rushing and improved their record to 5-2. It was their fifth win by seven or fewer points, and The Washington Post duly calls it a “Close Encounter of the 5th Kind.”

Washington is also home to NBC's long-running program "Meet the Press," where on Sunday morning former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. Obama’s biggest Republican endorsement to date paired with news of his biggest fundraising haul yet — $150 million in September. Fittingly, then, The Washington Times couples the two items with the headline “Obama Gains $150 million, Powell’s nod.”

But the election is far from over, said Republican nominee John McCain: "I love being the underdog."

So, it seemed for a while, did baseball’s Boston Red Sox. They fell behind three games to one in their American League Championship Series with the Tampa Bay Rays and pushed the series to a Game 7 before losing last night, 3-1. The Nashua, N.H., Telegraph bemoaned that, for the Sox, the “Magic runs out,” while in Florida reality trumps magic. The Tampa Tribune proclaims: “It’s For Real!”

The Rays advance to play the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, which begins Wednesday.

Hicks Wogan is a staff assistant at the Newseum.

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October 17, 2008

A few cracks in story
of Joe the Plumber

By John Maynard

While the economy remains topic du jour in the nation’s newspapers, it’s a bald plumber named Joe who’s clogging up a lot of front-page space today.

Wall Street continues to perform like a wildly gyrating elevator with the Dow Jones shooting up over 400 points yesterday. A front page headline on The Day (New London, Conn.) reads positively frantic: “It’s down. No, it’s up again! No, it’s down…”

Seniors got some good news yesterday with the announcement that Social Security checks are going up almost 6% next year and several papers take note. “Seniors secure a raise,” blares The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City. “Social Security gets pay raise,” reads the banner headline in The Post-Crescent (Appleton, Wis.).

But Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher is the man today. In Wednesday’s presidential debate, John McCain said the plumber would be negatively affected by Barack Obama’s tax plan. Obama disagreed and, from there, Joe’s name was volleyed back and forth like a cheap rubber gasket.

His 15 minutes arrived.

“Move over, Britney,” writes the Los Angeles Times above a story about the plumber’s new-found fame. “Much ado about Joe,” declares The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.).

Upon further review, though, it turns out that Joe doesn’t have a plumbing license, owes back taxes to the state of Ohio and might not be hurt by Obama’s tax plan after all.

“Joe the Plumber? His tale has a few leaks,” is how The Miami Herald put it. “‘Joe the plumber’ story springs a few leaks,” counters the Idaho Statesman in Boise.

Some papers focused on their own “Local Joes.” The Ventura County (Calif.) Star profiles plumber Joe Lara, who recalls how media from around the world contacted him Wednesday night mistakenly thinking he was the plumber referenced in the debate.

A Providence Journal story headlined “Just Ask Joe” interviews plumbers in Rhode Island — named Joe — about their presidential picks.

Finally, this Red Sox fan would be remiss not to note the team’s miraculous and historic comeback last night from a 7-0 deficit against the Tampa Bay Rays in game 5 of the American League playoffs. “Heartbreaker,” writes the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times about its team’s 8-7 loss.

As any Red Sox fan can tell you, we know all about heartbreak.

John Maynard is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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October 16, 2008

Not debatable: Gloves off, Dow down

By Patty Rhule

There was little debate in newsrooms about the top news today: The final presidential debate and the stock market’s second-worst plunge.

In GOP candidate John McCain’s home state of Arizona, The Dispatch reported “Both take off the gloves” with a sidebar called “Check their facts” inside. (On the same page, a story about a debate among candidates for the state House said, “Politicians turn from kitty cats to pit bulls.” No mention of lipstick, however.)

“Final debate gets tough and personal,” said the North County Times in Escondido, Calif., with a dramatic photo of the candidates and debate moderator Bob Schieffer. The lead story was “Yet another precipitous Dow plunge.”

“McCain doesn’t seal the deal,” said the Los Angeles Times’s front-page analysis.

“Verbal fisticuffs,” said the Los Angeles Daily News, with a boxing theme that was echoed in other newspapers.

The San Diego Union-Tribune presented the debate facial expressions of Democratic candidate Barack Obama and McCain, with “As McCain presses, Obama parries in sharp exchanges.”

“Red October,” said the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, with a simple yet elegant graphic reflecting the grim stock market month atop its debate package labeled, “Offense …” for McCain and “… Defense” for Obama.

Many newspapers concluded it was Joe the Plumber, a man whose question to Obama about tax policy became a debate theme, who was the star of the debate. “Battle for Average Joe,” said the Chicago Sun-Times.

That would be Joe Wurzelbacher of Ohio, and Toledo’s Blade had a story on his thoughts about the debate.

The Seattle Times summed up Joe’s significance: “Who is Joe the plumber? An Ohio man looking to buy a business became a symbol of the middle class.”

The Yakima Herald-Republic in Washington took a cue from Eastern religious philosophy, tagging the final debate “The Tao of Joe.”

Patty Rhule is a project editor at the Newseum.

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October 15, 2008

Rays score a win, Californians
lose homes, debate up for grabs

By Kate Kennedy

Today’s front pages declare some winners and losers. Let’s take a look.


Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party: “Déjà vu: Tory minority,” the Toronto Star declared after Harper was re-elected in Tuesday’s federal election. Explained The Globe and Mail of Toronto: “Canadians give the Tories a stronger mandate to steer the country through stormy economic times — but they deny Harper total control.”

Motorists: Amid the economic gloom and doom, gas prices are a bright spot. “Gas at less than $3 per gallon stops Salem drivers in their tracks,” said the Statesman Journal in Oregon.

Tampa Bay Rays: The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times called it “Phenomenal” after the Rays beat the Red Sox, 13-4, and came within one win of advancing to the World Series.


Southern Californians: They have lost homes and businesses to wildfires in what the Press-Telegram of Long Beach called a nightmare. “34 square miles and counting,” The Bakersfield Californian reported. “Three blazes have killed one, destroyed dozens of homes.”

Boston Red Sox: In a photo caption, The Boston Globe reported that the misery began in the first inning of last night’s game against the Rays. The neighboring Concord (N.H.) Monitor was less polite about the Sox performance: “Uninspired. Lethargic. Pathetic.”

Another tie?

Will there be a winner in tonight’s final presidential debate? The Daily News of New York used a caricature of John McCain and said, “Tonight’s debate is do-or-die for McCain’s campaign.” The State of Columbia, S.C., asked: “Will there be smoke — or fire? Some are expecting last McCain-Obama debate to generate few details but lots of heat.” One winner might be debate host Hofstra University. “All eyes on LI,” said Newsday of Long Island.

Today’s biggest winners might just be readers who were entertained by this morning’s Plain Dealer of Cleveland. The newspaper analyzed 2.7 million voter-registration records of Ohioans who declared a party affiliation before the spring primary. What did they find? “A name tells a lot about a person’s political leanings.” Barbie? She’s “a left-leaning glam gal … while boy-toy Ken runs conservative.” You can find out which way your name leans on The Plain Dealer’s Web site.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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October 14, 2008

U.S. bolsters banks,
giving bounce to the Dow

By Kate Kennedy

How quickly fortunes can change.

After a brutal week on Wall Street, the Dow was up 936 points on Monday, the largest point gain ever. That prompted relief from Wyoming (“Relief at last!” said the Tribune-Eagle in Cheyenne.) to North Carolina (“A sigh of relief,” The Charlotte Observer said.).

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called it “A reversal of fortune,” while the Rocky Mountain News in Denver described it as a “U-turn on Wall St.” “Stocks leap back from the edge,” said The Oregonian in Portland.

While some front pages focused solely on the Dow, the news behind the news was the move by the government to invest $250 billion in banks. The news was so significant that The New York Times and The Washington Post each devoted two-line banner headlines to the news. “U.S. Forces Nine Major Banks To Accept Partial Nationalization,” The Post said. In fewer words, The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee said: “U.S. tosses lifeline to banks.”

Many headlines responded to cause and effect and tied the banking move and Dow surge. “Plans to stabilize banks delight Wall St.,” the Chicago Tribune said. “Bold move sends stocks soaring,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said.

There was a hint of optimism in the air. “New plan lifts market, hopes,” The Honolulu Advertiser said. But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asked the question we all have: “Stocks soar, but will it last?”

The U.S. is following in the steps of Europe, which took action on its banks on Monday. “Nations act, markets soar,” The Boston Globe said. Said The Guardian of London: “Day the markets breathed again.”

Voting today: The U.S. presidential campaign still has three weeks to go. But Canadians go to the polls today in a federal election. The Hamilton Spectator told its readers: “After 141 years and 39 parliaments, today you decide who will be the next prime minister of Canada.” The Toronto Star pictured four candidates with the label “Why I deserve your vote.” But noting economic challenges and internal rifts, The Globe and Mail of Toronto said, “Leaders face tough fight beyond finish.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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October 13, 2008

Searching for relief from economic gloom

By Bridget Gutierrez

Weary of news on the financial front? On today’s front pages there’s a little relief, with articles that take the mind away from that 401k.

The Los Angeles Times injects levity with “Satellite radio sweeps Stern off cultural radar,” an update on shock-jock Howard Stern, who apparently is not shocking as many as he used to.

In “Bottled water company steamed about radio ad,” The Miami Herald reports that the maker of Zephyrhills was none too pleased about a recent advertisement touting the virtues of Miami-Dade’s (free) tap water. “It may have sounded innocuous to most listeners,” Curtis Morgan writes, “but the 30-second spot left the nation’s largest purveyor of bottled water boiling mad.” You don’t say.

From The Boston Globe, there’s this intriguing item: “Bid to canonize girl draws mixed reaction,” in which readers learn of a movement to make a saint out of a dead Massachusetts girl who nearly drowned when she was 3. In other religious news, The Wall Street Journal asks: “Is the Pope’s Newspaper Catholic?” Stacey Meichtry reports that the Vatican’s 147-year-old L’Osservatore Romano is forgoing religious tracts for honest-to-goodness articles. “There was a really precise request from the paper’s publisher,” Editor-in-Chief Giovanni Maria Vian told Meichtry; “in this case, the publisher just happens to be the pope.”

Internet domain names are changing, according to today’s Orlando Sentinel. “The change is part of perhaps the biggest expansion ever to Internet addresses, with the makeover of so-called ‘top-level domains’ beginning perhaps as early as next year,” Etan Horowitz reports. “But it won’t come cheap ? getting a new domain will likely be at least $100,000.” Yikes.

In the Pioneer Press, a heartwarmer about a community rallying to give a young couple a $60,000 dream wedding takes up three-quarters of the page. “The flowers? Free. The cake? Gratis. The hotel suite? On the house,” the subheadline reads. “After a year of recovering from injuries suffered in the Interstate 35W bridge collapse, Mercedes Golden is about to marry Jake Rudh.” How nice.

Finally, when all other news fails to lift the gloom, look for the tried-but-true animal tale. Today’s installment comes from The Charlotte Observer, where under “HE’S JUST A BIG, HAIRY CINDERELLA” the newspaper tells readers: “When Beau came to Polkton, he could hardly stand up. Now he’s a handsome, lovable champion.”

If a puppy dog doesn't take your mind off your money, nothing will.

Bridget Gutierrez is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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October 10, 2008

Panic selling brings another
emotional day on stock market

By Kate Kennedy

They look worried.

On Thursday — for the seventh business day in a row — the stock market was down, down, down. With the Dow dragged below 9,000 for the first time in five years, front pages look worried. “Another losing day,” said The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky.

In Casper, Wyo., Tacoma, Wash., and Fort Worth, Texas, the word “panic” was on the front page. Red down arrows were printed the width of the Chicago Tribune: “All signs pointing to panic.”

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the stock market’s all-time high, and the Rocky Mountain News charted the descent from “Peak to bleak.” “What a difference a year makes,” The Telegraph in Nashua, N.H., said in a graphic. “And it just gets worse,” The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press said.

GM was one stock that got pummeled. “Auto Fears Grow,” The Detroit News said, adding, “Market Drop Revives Talk of Bankruptcy.”

Headlines had a sense of helplessness. “Running out of options,” The Record of Hackensack, N.J., said, adding, “Finding a cure for financial crisis proves elusive.”

The San Antonio (Texas) Express-News optimistically looked ahead in its coverage of options: “World gearing up to cool meltdown.” The Indianapolis Star examined the economic toolbox available to the government: “Standard options have failed to shore up unstable markets.”

Even as The Sun of Baltimore called it “Uneasy Street” and others reported panic, Newsday on Long Island offered advice from experts: “Even Now, Don’t Panic (Really).”

Amid the gloom, The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., began a series on happiness, “the most sought-after human emotion.” Offered the newspaper: “How to get happy? Thinking positive is a good start.”


Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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October 9, 2008

At the intersection of Wall Street
and Main Street, the financial crisis

By Hicks Wogan

On the presidential campaign trail both major-party tickets have been using the global financial crisis to draw a distinction within America, a distinction between haves and have-nots, between wealthy “Wall Street” and everyday “Main Street.”

On both streets, however, the crisis is front-page news.

The Wall Street Journal takes money matters seriously. Today it notes that the United States, Canada and countries throughout Europe cut interest rates yesterday, trying to slow their market declines. AM New York, also in Manhattan, has a different focus. The paper profiles a number of “Stress Busters,” ways in which “The wealthy indulge in guilty pleasures to deal with the Wall Street crisis.” Photos on this front page suggest Wall Streeters are still spending money on desserts, spa treatments, credit-card shopping sprees and — seriously? — lap dances.

Back on the campaign trail, the vice-presidential nominees like to tout themselves as blue-collar Americans, as a son and a daughter of Main Street. Democrat Joe Biden was born in Scranton, Pa., where today’s Times-Tribune notes yesterday’s Dow Jones drop of 189 points. Biden lives in Wilmington, Del., where the biggest headline on the front page of The News Journal reads, “Market’s painful plummet continues.”

Say it ain’t so, Joe!

Republican Sarah Palin hails from tiny (but Main Street) Wasilla, Alaska, about 45 minutes from Anchorage, where today the Anchorage Daily News refers readers looking for financial news to the B section, the paper’s Nation/World section.

Here’s a different approach: If Main Street is synonymous with Middle America, is Main Street located at the middle of America? The geographic center of our 50 states sits just north of Rapid City, S.D., and today the Rapid City Journal asks, “When will the financial meltdown hit bottom?” In Newark, N.J., The Star-Ledger uses a banner atop its front page to ask the similarly rhetorical “How Low Will It Go?”

Finally, not on Main Street but on a Maine street, the Portland Press Herald highlights its state’s lobster industry, which is suffering. Right about this time of year Maine should be entering its usual high season for lobsters. But this year, because fuel and bait are expensive and lobsters are a luxury food item, demand has fallen off.

That’s bad news. But eating lobsters in Maine? That’s not news. That’s nearly as clichéd as a politician’s talking about Main Street.

Hicks Wogan is a staff assistant at the Newseum.

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October 8, 2008

Presidential debate: Community
paper makes national story its own

By Kate Kennedy

For 90 minutes Tuesday night, John McCain and Barack Obama answered questions in a town-hall debate at Belmont University in Tennessee.

The presidential debate was the first ever to be held in Nashville, and the question for the community newspaper, The Tennessean, was: How are we going to own the story?

The Tennessean started by providing readers information in the days leading up to the debate. A blog by a higher education reporter shared all things debate and was republished in the next day’s print edition. By Tuesday afternoon, a debate splash page reported political appearances and media and celeb sightings, along with traffic updates and how-to-navigate-town information. A slideshow examined past candidates’ visits to the area, a game asked viewers to match a candidate’s face with a quote, and video highlighted comments from a women voters’ roundtable held earlier at the Freedom Forum’s First Amendment Center.

By 6 p.m. Eastern time, the site posted “Debate Day” photos, a story noted Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander’s advice for McCain, and the blogger signed off to head to debate hall. By 7 p.m., pundits and Nashvillians weighed in, and the site noted excitement by Belmont neighbors. At 8 p.m., new photos and streaming video from a debate event at the Ryman Auditorium were added. When the presidential candidates appeared on stage with moderator Tom Brokaw at 9 p.m., streaming video of the debate began.

By 10 p.m., The Tennessean posted an AP story on candidates’ comments on the causes and cures for the economic crisis. When it was all said and done, debate reaction was reported in more streaming video by 11 p.m.

By the time the printed Tennessean was dropped at doorsteps, Tennessean.com’s homepage was divided into thirds to report on “Nashville,” “The Main Event” and “Yesterday in Review.” Stories included an analysis and fact-checking; yesterday’s events around Belmont were reported on video; the night’s festivities were chronicled in photos; polls tallied “Who won” and “Who had the best answer;” and comments from four undecided voters were charted in “Did they change any minds?”

But the Web features weren’t the only special treatment given the debate. A large photo and the headline “Seeking Trust” filled The Tennessean’s front page. “Barack Obama and John McCain, in their Belmont debate, paced the floor, exchanged barbs and tried to connect with worried voters,” said The Tennessean, referring to images and reaction inside.

And, as if to promise more, it added at the bottom of the page: “27 days until election.”

Economy as the key word … As USA Today reported “$2 trillion wiped out of retirement funds” in the last 15 months, newspapers noted that the failing economy was the main debate headline. “Town hall questions make it clear … It’s the economy, senators,” the Chicago Tribune said. “Economy rules,” pronounced the Hattiesburg (Miss.) American. The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., called it “Wrestling over the economy.” “Economy in the spotlight,” noted the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. And said the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald: “Tottering economy at center stage.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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October 7, 2008

Financial worries the world over
lead newspapers the world over

By Gene Mater

The first line of the headline on the lead story in today’s Washington Post says it best and says it for and to all: “Global Stocks Sink as Crisis Spirals.” Newspapers the world over are reporting on the financial problems that seem to be truly universal.

The Wall Street Journal Europe in Brussels leads with “Markets plummet around the world,” while The Wall Street Journal Asia in Hong Kong tells its readers that “Fear puts chokehold on global markets.” In Paris, La Tribune says there is panic in the stock market, while The Jerusalem Post leads with “Dow’s wild ride shakes globe.” Gulf News in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has an all caps banner “BOOM … AND GLOOM,” and The Times in Johannesburg, South Africa, reports the drop in value of the local currency and that “Investors flee markets.”

Financial Review in Sydney, Australia, banners “Markets slide as contagion spreads through Europe,” The Sun in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, says, “Wall Street tumbles in global sell off,” The Telegraph in Calcutta, India, notes a “Ripple of terror across markets,” Portafolio in Bogota, Colombia, reports on “another day in the red” and the The Press in Christchurch, New Zealand, also sees red with “Treasury books ‘sea of red ink.’” Meanwhile, Iran Daily in Tehran advises the free world that “Free economic theories doomed.”

In the United States, the Los Angeles Times banner headline reports “Fears of world recession deepen,” The Denver Post reports on “Global sell-off” with a drop headline noting that “Markets tank worldwide as fears of a wide-scale recession spread,” and The Idaho Statesman in Boise also says, “Investors fear worldwide recession.” The Boston Globe has a two-word banner: “Worldwide worry,” and The Star-Ledger in Newark N.J., also tells it all in a two-word banner but makes plural with “Worldwide Worries.” The Birmingham (Ala.) News reports, “Fed weighs radical move in debt market,” and The Plain Dealer in Cleveland tells its readers about “Scary day on the stock market.”

The tabloid New York Post takes a different approach, reaching back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first inaugural address in 1933 to quote in a head that almost fills the page to advise that “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself,” adding that “FDR was right then. And he’s right now.”

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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October 6, 2008

Financial crisis reaches Europe
and rates front-page coverage

By Gene Mater

We are not alone. The New York Times’ lead headline today reports that “Financial Crises Spread in Europe,” a situation reflected in a sampling of west European newspapers.

The immediate problem is with banks in Germany, with The Wall Street Journal Europe, published in Brussels, Belgium, telling its readers in a banner headline that “Germany backs deposits as crisis grows.” Two Brussels dailies – De Morgen and Het Nieuwsblad – lead with the troubles of Fortis, an insurance and banking firm based in Belgium but active in much of Europe.

In Germany itself, Der Tagesspiegel and Die Welt in Berlin play up the state guarantee of savings accounts as do our friends at the Heilbronner Stimme in Heilbronn and at the Suedwest Presse in Ulm. The Financial Times Deutschland in Hamburg has a banner headline for the state guarantees with a price tag of 568 billion Euros. In neighboring Austria, the Salzburger Nachrichten in Salzburg offers a new sound of music, reporting that the government will guarantee bank accounts, while the Kurier in Vienna leads with “More protection for the saver” and the competing Der Standard plays up “Full protection for the saver,” linking it to the action in Germany. But the Kleine Zeitung in Graz asks whether there will be a full guarantee of savings.

La Stampa in Torino leads with “Berlin: guarantee for savings,” and La Repubblica in Rome does the same. El Pais in Madrid, Spain, also leads with the German guarantee of savings, while Trouw in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and the Basler Zeitung in Basel, Switzerland, play up the increasing financial crisis in Europe. The Daily Telegraph in London reports “Treasury planning to take shares in banks,” but The Guardian in London says, “Treasury anger at German savings move,” with “UK under pressure to match guarantee.”

But our favorite lead headline is in La Tribune, the Paris financial daily, reporting “Crisis: America acts, Europe discusses,” a somewhat rare nod in praise of something done in the United States.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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October 3, 2008

Spirited but cordial:
One heckuva debate?

By Kate Kennedy

Lloyd Bentsen jabbed Dan Quayle with “You are no Jack Kennedy.” George H.W. Bush lectured Geraldine Ferraro on foreign policy, and she struck back. But Thursday night’s debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin was devoid of a zinger like in 1988 or the hand-to-hand combat of 1984.

“Spirited” and “pointed” described the debate, but “cordial” and “courteous” also appeared in headlines. “Spirit of St. Louis?” The Plain Dealer of Cleveland asked. “Polite.”

That’s a bit of a yawn for the front page.

“Biden-Palin debate lacks expected fire,” the Times-Picayune of New Orleans said.

The only 2008 vice presidential debate was held in St. Louis, where the Post-Dispatch said, “Candidates accomplish their missions.” The San Antonio Express-News offered a debate scorecard, the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald declared: “There’s no loser in expectations game.”

Many headlines focused on Palin, who, when asked earlier by Katie Couric what newspapers and magazines she read regularly, said: “I’ve read most of them.” Phrases such as “held her own” and “stands her ground” were common. Said The Journal News in Westchester, N.Y., “Palin tops low expectations.” The Daily News of New York declared: “No Baked Alaska.” In a front-page commentary, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel instructed, “Republicans can wipe sweat from brows.”

Palin’s folksy style rubbed off on headline writers. “‘Heck’ of a show,” The Oregonian of Portland said. “Debate? ‘Darn right,’” noted the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News. The Hartford (Conn.) Courant broke out quotes – “Best Digs,” “The Folksy Touch” and “Maverick, Shmaverick.”

From Biden’s home state, Delaware, The News Journal of Wilmington noted the focus on the middle-class vote. Said The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, “Candidates aim for middle-class touch in debate.”

In Detroit, the debate was secondary news after the John McCain campaign pulled its forces from Michigan. “Decision alters strategy in race for White House,” The Detroit News said. Barack Obama campaigned in the state on Thursday, and the Free Press had an “exclusive” interview with the Democrat on “What keeps Obama awake at night.” Last night, it wasn’t the debate.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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October 2, 2008

A bailout, by any other name,
is still the same

By Emily Hedges

Last night, the Senate passed a bill to help out the U.S. financial markets. Although, according to this story, the White House does not prefer the term "bailout," many newspaper editors used this word on their front pages. Let's take a look at the language.

The headlines of The Birmingham (Ala.) News, "Senate Passes $700 Billion Bailout Bill," and the Tucson Arizona Daily Star, "Senate OKs Bailout Plan," are good examples of what most newspapers did -- straightforward headlines with the word "bailout."

Some editors preferred "rescue" to "bailout." New Orleans's Times-Picayune preferred "rescue" in its headline, "Senate Passes Rescue Proposal." The Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, Mass., called the major backers of the bill "Rescue squad." Fort Myers, Fla.'s News-Press pictured a cozy time on the Senate floor: "Senate Embraces Rescue Plan."

Mary Poppins said a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, and many editors agree. Sugary language dripped from many headlines including those of Melbourne's Florida Today, " 'Sugar' helps Senate swallow bailout bill," and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.'s Sun Sentinel, "Senate's Recipe to Make Bailout Palatable: Add Sweeteners."

Many headlines featured numbers. The Laramie (Wyo.) Boomerang made "Yea 74, Nay 25" its headline, with a nod to local news by noting that both Wyoming senators voted against the bill. The amount of the bailout was referenced in many headlines, though the figure varied. Jackson, Miss.'s Clarion-Ledger called it a "$700B Bailout," while the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review noted an updated -- and inflated -- figure: "Senate passes fat $810B fix."

The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer was one of few papers to note in its headline that the bailout bill includes tax cuts. The Portsmouth (N.H.) Herald quoted a knowledgeable source, "Experts: Rescue vital."

One of our favorite places to read the news is the tabloids. The New York tabloids had a field day with the news. Long Island's Newsday used a pun: "Senate to House: Bail's in Your Court." The Daily News said, "It's on the House," and the New York Post headline read "Oink! Oink! Senate OKs rescue deal full of pork."

No matter what you want to call the bill, the bottom line and the front-page news is that the Senate approved it. The Times-Republican of Marshalltown, Iowa, cut to the chase with a big stamp-of-approval graphic on the top of its front page.  

Emily Hedges is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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October 1, 2008

Baseball playoffs: Eight
teams, eight dreams

By Kate Kennedy

While Washington lawmakers might not be able to agree on a financial bailout, there’s no disagreement among fans of eight baseball teams: Let the playoffs begin!

Los Angeles Times has “Visions of an elusive I-5 series” between the Dodgers and Angels. The Daily News of Los Angeles promotes a 12-page baseball preview section and tonight’s “Windy City vs. City of Angels” (Cubs vs. Dodgers) game.

The Angels meet the Boston Red Sox tonight. “For Sox owner Henry, the joy comes daily,” The Boston Globe said in a profile of billionaire owner John Henry. There is less joy in the Cape Cod Times: “Angels ready as Sox limp into L.A.”

The Chicago White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins, 1-0, last night in a one-and-done playoff. From northwest Indiana, The Times of Munster said, “Thanks, Danks!” a reference to pitcher John Danks, who threw eight scoreless innings.

With both the White Sox and the Cubs in the playoffs, the Chicago Tribune celebrated the “once-in-a-lifetime event,” noting “the last time this happened was in 1906.” The Chicago Sun-Times proclaimed: “Worth the Wait.” The Daily Herald of suburban Chicago provided equal treatment with a “Black & Blue” package.

The White Sox meet the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, and the St. Petersburg Times pictured a teen, Zac Giparas, who will be sitting above third base. Zac also was in the stands 10 years ago at the Rays’ first game.

With the Twins “Outta There,” Minnesotans face the long, cold months until spring training with Midwest optimism. “Someday … they will look back and realize what a remarkable season they had,” the St. Paul Pioneer Press said of the Twins.

Chicago wasn’t the only city in waiting. “It has been 9,478 days since the Brewers … lost Game 7 of the 1982 World Series,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reminded readers. From Wisconsin’s capital, the State Journal also had 1982 on its mind. Pairing photos from 1982 and today, the front page said, “Brewers fast forward, with 26 years of perspective.”

The Brewers face the Philadelphia Phillies today, and the Bucks County Courier Times in Levittown, P a., was “Looking for something to hate about the Brewers.” The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., compared Philly and Milwaukee: “Blue-collar cities share little more than a thirst for a champ.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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September 30, 2008

'Dark Day' makes
news all over the world

By Gene Mater

No matter where you are, chances are good that the newspaper you pick up today will have major Page One coverage of the House of Representatives’ failure to pass financial rescue legislation to help resolve the economic problems.

The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., reports about a “Dark Day,” and The Dallas Morning News banners the dollar amount of the stock market drop because the $700 million bailout failed – “$1.1 trillion lost.”

The Press-Register in Mobile, Ala., leads with “Shock, then a drop,” and The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif., reports “Derailed rescue triggers chaos.”

Many U.S. newspapers use much of their front page in creative packages, often charting the downward spiral of the Dow in red ink. The St. Petersburg Times in Florida asks in second-coming type “NOW WHAT?” The Chicago Tribune also has a question, this one about the stock market – “How low will it go?” The Boston Globe incorporates a chart, four stories and four solemn photos in a “Crashing Down” package. The Las Vegas Review-Journal and The Oregonian in Portland incorporate 777 – the stock market’s largest one-day point drop ever – into their design.

The Bangor (Maine) Daily News uses a one-word banner:“Meltdown,” while The Forum in Fargo, N.D., also uses a one-word, all-caps headline: “FAILOUT.”

But we will give today’s prize to the editor of Newsday in Long Island, N.Y., for the Page One that you have to see to appreciate, with the BIG head proclaiming “WELL, THAT DIDN’T WORK.”

The economic problems that started in the U.S. and cut deeply into the stock market have affected markets abroad.

South China Morning Post in Hong Kong leads with “Markets fall as European banks falter,” Lidove Noviny in Prague, Czech Republic, has a photo of President Bush that is anything but happy, and La Tribune in Paris says, “The banks crack.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is the Page One poster boy for Nepszabadsag in Budapest, Hungary, while La Vanguardia in Barcelona, Spain, says it in one big English word – “Crash!” In London, The Guardian’s banner reports “Panic grips the world’s markets,” and Clarin in Buenos Aires, Argentina, tells its readers about the “worldwide crisis.”

The Times in Johannesburg , South Africa, says it all with a photo of a troubled trader labeled “Nightmare on Wall Street.”

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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September 29, 2008

Election surprises in Europe
are major stories for many

By Gene Mater

While American dailies are focusing on the economic bailout plan and who will be the next president, elections yesterday in other countries are making headlines in Europe today.

In national elections in Austria, the far-right political parties made major gains, although the Social Democrats won the most votes. Kurier in Vienna tells it all with a banner about the “Radical swing to the right,” and Der Standard, also in Vienna, has a two-line banner headline reporting on the “debacle” for the great coalition and the “triumph” for the right. Another Vienna daily, Die Presse, trumpets the “Victory of the third camp.” Kleine Zeitung in Klagenfurt has a couple of sad-looking politicians taking up most of the page with a lead headline about the Christian Socialists falling off, while the Vorarlberger Nachrichten in Vorarlberg reports that the “election brings a swing to the right” and the Salzburger Nachrichten in Salzburg tells its readers that “Despite historic defeat, the great coalition hopes to remain” in power.

Moving next door to the German state of Bavaria, yesterday’s state election was a shocker that might have countrywide repercussions in next year’s national elections. That is why the story rates top coverage in most of Germany.

The Christian Socialist Union (CSU) has ruled Bavarian in unchallenged fashion with an absolute majority since 1962. Indeed, in the last major election four years ago the CSU had 60.7% of the vote, which dropped down to about 43.5% yesterday. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung in the Bavarian capital of Munich says it all with the headline “Devastating defeat for the CSU.” The Augsburger Allgemeine in Augsburg, also in Bavaria, reports “Political earthquake in Bavaria,” adding that “The CSU needs a coalition partner.” Even the Heilbronner Stimme in Heilbronn in Baden-Wuerttemberg leads with “Historic debacle for the CSU.” Up in Berlin, Der Tagesspiegel reports that “After 46 years: End of the CSU myth,” and Die Welt leads with “Bavarian election: Heavy losses for the CSU.”

There was another election of sorts yesterday in another country, Belarus, which has been ruled since 1994 by Alexander Lukashenko, the man often referred to as “the last dictator in Europe.” The election was for the 110-seat Belarus parliament in the capital, Minsk. Lukashenko promised a free and fair election, hoping to ease his strained relations with the West. There were indeed opposition candidates, but somehow only pro-Lukashenko candidates won all 110 seats. We don’t have any front pages from Belarus, but we thought that the Polish dailies might cover the election and, indeed, it’s the lead story in the major Warsaw daily, Gazeta Wyborcza.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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September 26, 2008

Washington’s bailout plan:
‘Hello, Goodbye’

By Kate Kennedy

“Day of Chaos Grips Washington.”

The New York Times had that right. A tentative deal on an economic bailout was announced and denounced in a 12-hour soap opera that included a half-joking plea for cooperation from the Treasury secretary, who got down on one knee.

In the end, The Washington Post noted, “Talks Falter.” Said USA Today, “House GOP defies Bush on bailout hours after pact seemed near.” The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post aptly said, “Day starts with promise, ends with finger-pointing.”

Some invoked the name of the popular TV show. “Deal or No Deal?” asked the Orlando Sentinel.

USA Today included a tick-tock of the bailout breakdown and pictured players in the negotiations. Among the players:

  • Sen. Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate banking committee, who hails from Connecticut, where the Record-Journal of Meriden pictured a sign at a small business: “Mailman, Send Bills to the White House.”

  • Sen. Richard Shelby, ranking committee member, who is from Tuscaloosa, Ala., where the News noted that “negotiators planned to meet into the night to try to revive proposal” — unintentionally suggesting readers look elsewhere this morning for news.

  • Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who represents Massachusetts, where The Boston Globe reported, “Economic data point to recession.”

  • Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, who, in representing House Republicans, offered an alternative plan. “Earlier deal turns out to be no deal; Boehner delivers the bad news,” The Cincinnati Enquirer said.

  • Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who earlier was Goldman Sachs chairman. From Wall Street, the Journal reported the “largest failure in U.S. banking history” Thursday and the sale of Washington Mutual to JPMorgan Chase.

With conflict raging in Washington, a chorus of “Give Peace a Chance” went out in Tel Aviv, as Paul McCartney performed 43 years after the Beatles were banned from Israel. “Fab McCartney wows Israel,” The Jerusalem Post said.

As for tonight’s planned presidential debate, “Ole Miss stage prepared if McCain, Obama show up,” The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., said. Barack Obama said he would be there; John McCain said maybe. Asked the Los Angeles Times, “Who’d win in a one-man debate?”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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September 25, 2008

Bush’s ‘dire’ message tops news
from presidential campaign

By John Maynard

There were some tough calls to be made last night in the nation's newsrooms. Lead with President Bush’s dreary address to the nation on the economic crisis or go with Sen. John McCain's call to delay Friday's debate with Sen. Barack Obama in light of the financial situation?

A scan of the front pages shows that most newspapers went with the Bush speech. "Our Entire Economy is in Danger," reads the headline in the Chicago Sun-Times, The Indianapolis Star and many others, quoting the president. (And with headlines like that, who needs coffee?)

It appears headline writers might have dug into their thesauruses last night to convey the news that things aren't good right now. Two popular words? "Dire" and "peril." "Bush makes dire appeal for fast bailout," reads the top of The Arizona Republic in Phoenix. The Tulsa (Okla.) World leads with "Bush warns of economic peril."

Meanwhile, the Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa) makes Bush's plea sound like an office memo from your cranky boss. "Bush: Enact Bailout ASAP." And the one headline that White House spin-meisters might put in their scrapbook is from the Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal, which declares "Bush's Talk Gets High Marks."

No doubt Mississippi will be plenty disappointed if tomorrow's debate is canceled. Its front pages reflect that gloom: "Debate or Bailout?" screams the headline of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, while The Commercial Appeal from neighboring Tennessee asks, "Debate on Hold?"

A few papers put the debate question in a term that any sports fan — or disciplining parent — can relate to. "Time Out?" asks the Stamford, Conn., Advocate. "Calling a Timeout," writes The Denver Post on McCain's announcement.

The San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News manages to get both issues up front with the aesthetically pleasing, side-by-side headline that reads "Debate Or No Debate?" and "Bailout Or No Bailout?"

And we know that it's more than a month before Halloween, but we are really digging the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune headline on the economy that reads simply "Meltdown" in a ghoulish, green font that is a must-see.

John Maynard is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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September 24, 2008

A hard sell on bailout;
Congress not buying it

By Kate Kennedy

Although the Bush administration and Congress spent much of Tuesday talking about an economic bailout, it took front pages only a few words to sum up the day.

The Rocky Mountain News of Denver called the $700 billion rescue plan a “Hard sell,” while The Salt Lake (Utah) Tribune described it as a “tough sell.”

As one editor noted, the word “bailout” dominated today’s pages.

“Bailout doubt,” pronounced The Sun of Baltimore, while The Hartford (Conn.) Courant declared, “Bailout backlash.”

“Congress not buying it,” the Waco (Texas) Tribune-Herald said. “Bailout proposal runs into buzz saw,” the Houston Chronicle said.

That buzz saw was lawmakers’ interest in including oversight and limits on executive compensation. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution pictured major players in the negotiations and said, “Bailout Face-Off.” The Plain Dealer of Cleveland broke out the sticking points. The Times-Republican in Marshalltown, Iowa, noted that in the disagreement, “Nobody is Happy.”

Some front pages noted dire predictions by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. “Pass bailout or face recession,” The Times of Shreveport, La., quoted Bernanke. Some reported an FBI investigation into four financial institutions, while others included Warren Buffett’s investment in ailing Goldman Sachs. And many front pages provided reaction from local congressional delegations. “Area lawmakers’ concerns about bailout unite some who are often on opposite sides of issues,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said.

A few newspapers paired news from Capitol Hill with interesting sidebars. The Lexington Herald-Leader said, “Ky. delegation of one voice in ’99 / All voted to deregulate Wall Street.”

Tragedy in Finland: A student gunman killed 10 at a trade school northwest of Helsinki before killing himself. Iltalehti in Helsinki pictured a makeshift memorial, which also was shown on the front pages of Helsingborgs Dagblad and Dagens Nyheter in neighboring Sweden. The Daily Telegraph in London noted, “School gun killer quizzed over YouTube video.” Startling still images from his video appeared on a few front pages in Europe, including DAG of Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Politika, of Belgrade, Serbia. El Periódico de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, printed a photo from the video with similar images from gunmen in earlier school shootings.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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September 23, 2008

Wall Street and Washington problems
are Page One news around the world

By Gene Mater

The Wall Street problems and the delay in resolving such issues as oversight of the bailout are Page One stories here, there and everywhere.

The Wall Street Journal Asia, published in Hong Kong, leads with “Japanese suitors swoop in on U.S. investment banks,” while adding below, “Wall Street era comes to an end,” a reaction with echoes elsewhere.

The South China Morning Post, also published in Hong Kong, reports that a Japanese firm “snaps up Lehman’s Asia operation,” The Telegraph in Calcutta, India, tells its readers, “Era of banking high-rollers ends,” while DNA in Mumbai, India, notes the “Death of investment banking on Wall St.” even as Manila Standard Today in the Philippines says, “Goldman, Morgan: End of an era.”

In Europe, Die Presse in Vienna has a banner headline simply stating, “End of an era on Wall Street.” That is also noted in The Wall Street Journal Europe in Brussels with the lead “Goldman, Morgan moves end an era on Wall Street,” while reporting that that “Russian crisis may fuel wave of acquisitions.” In Paris, La Tribune pulls out some of its biggest type to lead with “Non, la crise n’est pas finie,” which sounds almost as bad in English — “No, the crisis is not finished.” Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin says that “America must help itself,” while Financial Times Deutschland in Hamburg leads with Wall Street burying an era. El Pais in Madrid leads with the end of the investment banking era in Wall Street.

Meanwhile, in Istanbul, Today’s Zaman sees a rainbow with words from the prime minister believing that the “global crisis will bring opportunities for Turkey.”

In Sydney, Australia, the Financial Review plays up “US bail-out fuels relief rally” and The New Zealand Herald in Auckland agrees with its lead story “Big bailout puts shares on road to recovery.”

The Vancouver Sun in Canada tells U.S. neighbors to the north that “Washington and Wall Street complicit in financial crisis,” which we’ve read from time to time in the Lower 48.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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September 22, 2008

Proposed solution to financial crisis
rates Page One attention all over

By Gene Mater

The bailout of U.S. financial institutions, as proposed by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., coupled with congressional Democrats coming up with their own terms to end the crisis, is Page One news for dailies across the country. Indeed, we thought that we would check some of the smaller newspapers in our exhibit.

The Dothan Eagle in Alabama focused on the congressional problems with headlines noting “Complicating the bailout” and “Paulson resists calls from Democrats to add more help for households,” The Tribune in San Luis Obispo, Calif., reports in its off-lead “Tax funds flashpoint in bailout debate,” the Fort Collins Coloradoan, noting time being critical, squares off “Fed urges quick action,” while the Star-Banner in Ocala, Fla., leads with “Paulson: No delay on bailout.”

Moving to middle America, the Journal Star in Peoria, Ill., and the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa, along with The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, play up the need for “quick” or “fast” action. The St. Cloud Times in Minnesota banners “Fed OKs banks’ status change,” noting that “Finance giants now able to create new financial entities.” The Courier in Findlay, Ohio, leads with “Quick action urged on $700 billion bailout plan.”

In New England, the Cape Cod Times in Hyannis, Mass., tells us, “‘Mother of all bailouts’ pushed,” while the Bangor Daily News in Maine uses a quiet “Paulson pushes $700B bailout” headline.

It’s much the same no matter where you go.

In Texas, the Killeen Daily Herald also runs with “Mother of all handouts,” the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in Montana has as its off-lead “Paulson urges quick action on bailout,” while The Daily Times in Farmington, N.M., has Paulson at the bottom of the page while playing up the local situation with “City set for financial crisis.” The Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, Wash., pins the financial crisis to the election with “Campaigns scramble for economic advice,” The Daily Progress in Thomas Jefferson’s preferred city of Charlottesville, Va., reports on Paulson’s push for urgent action, as does the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in upstate New York. In Pennsylvania, the Erie Times-News uses a word one doesn’t see that often, leading with “Haste urged on debt bailout.”

There are other stories today, but nothing really tops the financial crisis, the proposed solution and the counter-proposals.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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September 19, 2008

Biggest bailout yet gets biggest headline

By Kate Kennedy

“You need to go no farther than your morning newspaper,” Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut told Good Morning America’s Diane Sawyer today at the Newseum when discussing the gravity of the planned government rescue of banks.

From Boston and Philadelphia to Portland and Los Angeles, the proposed intervention by the federal government to shore up the country’s financial woes was today’s lead headline.

“Citing Grave Financial Threats, Officials Ready Massive Rescue,” The Washington Post said. “Treasury says it eyes options for protection from bad debts,” The Philadelphia Inquirer said in a three-story package. The Boston Globe called the proposal “A plan to stop the bleeding.”

The Seattle Times asked: “Biggest bailout ever?” Newsday on Long Island described it as “The Bailout to End All Bailouts.”

The Los Angeles Times analyzed the proposed solution to the financial crisis and asked, “Is a relief agency the right answer?” The Salt Lake (Utah) Tribune used an illustration to explain the “Economic balancing act.”

Reaction to the plan was a “Crazy day on Wall Street,” The Cincinnati Enquirer said, noting a 410-point gain in the Dow. The Oregonian of Portland said, “Wall Street bounces back as officials consider relieving lenders of bad mortgages in what would be the biggest U.S. bailout yet.”

A year later: An aerial view of the new Mississippi River bridge was pictured above the nameplate of the Star Tribune of Minneapolis. It’s been about a year since the old I-35W bridge collapsed, prompting nationwide concerns about infrastructure.

Moving on, moving in: The Detroit News divided its page in half vertically to report on the last day of a mayor “brought down by scandal” and the first day of the city’s new leader.

Waiting, wondering: Six days after Hurricane Ike hit Texas, residents in Galveston and Houston remain “uncertain, frustrated trying to put lives back in order,” the Galveston County Daily News said. The newspaper, which has served its readers despite struggles, said in a front-page note that home delivery is returning. The Houston Chronicle promoted four online chats about dealing with the storm aftermath. Its centerpiece story focused on cleaning up: “Have chain saw, will work.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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September 18, 2008

Red ink and a stressed-out broker

By Patty Rhule

An Associated Press photo of stressed-out New York Stock Exchange trader Christopher Crotty told the story of Wednesday’s financial crisis for newspapers across the country.

“What a mess,” said the Los Angeles Daily News, with a powerful package that laid out in words and images what the news meant to homeowners and investors. “Prices plummet to record levels throughout Southern California, with foreclosures accounting for almost half the sales.”

“And you thought Monday was bad,” The Oakland (Calif.) Tribune said of the second-biggest drop in the Dow since Sept. 11, 2001. Both of the drops occurred this week.

“New lows usher in new era,” said The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee, with a package of charts and graphs on the bad news’s ripple effects — from the rising price of gold to how many Americans will be able to afford retirement.

The San Diego Union-Tribune was more animated. “RUNNING SCARED,” said the banner headline, with the pullout quote, “It’s like having a fire in a cinema. Everybody is rushing to the door.”

Looking for a bright spot, The Washington Times quoted former presidential candidate (and millionaire) Steve Forbes as saying that the “Crisis Could ‘Quickly Pass.’”

“Wall Street Wallows in Financial Quagmire,” said The Daytona Beach News-Journal in Florida.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.’s Sun Sentinel had an innovative if unnerving front page with lots of jagged red ink to reflect the Dow’s decline and three ominous headlines at the top of the page: “Lockdown drama in Boca,” “We’re the front line in AIDS war” and “Ike victims might have washed out to sea.” That’s before you even get to “Crisis on Wall Street: The Dow’s wild ride.”

The Idaho Statesman in Boise warned that “Highway projects could fall victim to tough times.” The Chicago Sun-Times said the stock market turmoil, gas prices and losses by the Cubs and Sox added up to one big “STRESS FEST.”

Outside the world of finance, the Detroit Free Press scored the first interview with Elizabeth Edwards since her husband, John, confessed to having an affair: “Former political wife is Mom first.”

Patty Rhule is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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September 17, 2008

Insurer AIG makes national
headlines with historic bailout

By Kate Kennedy

The federal government took control of insurer AIG late Tuesday in a move that generated top headlines across the U.S.

In its lead story, The Washington Post noted American Insurance Group’s ties to subprime home mortgages. The move by the Feds, the newspaper said, “effectively nationalizes one of the central institutions in the crisis that has swept through markets this month.”

As to why the government took action, The Philadelphia Inquirer said, “Fed sought to avert a global financial crisis.” “Emergency loan intended to stave off wider economic collapse,” The Arizona Republic in Phoenix said.

In a reference to recent bailouts of Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Chicago Tribune said, “Fed rides to rescue yet again.”

Word came after the evening news in the East, giving front pages an advantage in reporting the action. The New York Times illustrated “A.I.G.’s Troubles and Why They Matter.” The Hartford (Conn.) Courant broke out the terms of the bailout. With AIG less than a household name, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland answered the question, “What is AIG?” (“It’s the largest insurance company in the world.”)

The Providence (R.I.) Journal localized the story by reporting on a “State SWAT team formed to protect $130 million with AIG.” The Honolulu Advertiser said, “Rescue loan eases fears of Hawai’i units, for now.” From Delaware, The News Journal of Wilmington did a staff-written story and broke out the number of AIG employees and subsidiaries incorporated in its state.

The Wall Street Journal noted the “Historic Move Would Cap 10 Days That Reshaped U.S. Finance.”

Besides reporting the $85-billion AIG bailout, the Los Angeles Times bulleted daily economic developments, including a slight stock market rebound and a Federal Reserve decision not to lower interest rates. The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., offered “Three reasons to feel good about yesterday …” “And three reasons to not feel so good…”

Stripped across the bottom of The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post was a primer on the financial crisis and “How we got here.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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September 16, 2008

U.S. stock market, economic
problems make headlines worldwide

By Gene Mater

The Washington Times banners “A nightmare on Wall Street” and then offers a small listing of the “Global Meltdown,” showing how what happened in the U.S. affects markets elsewhere because it’s more than an American story. And indeed that’s true, affecting markets around the world.

The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong tells its readers that “Meltdown in US spooks markets,” The Telegraph in Calcutta, India, leads with “Belly Up,” adding “Lehman goes bankrupt, Merrill in distress sale, Tata (an Indian company) ally AIG seeks cash,” DNA in Mumbai, India, warns that “Failing US banks trigger crisis,” The Jakarta Post in Indonesia reports “Stock markets plunge as U.S. titans collapse” and the Manila Standard Today in the Philippines says, “Wall St. in ‘tectonic’ shift as Merrill, Lehman fall.” The Australian Financial Review in Sydney has a banner proclaiming “Bloodbath for Wall Street banks,” and The Age in Melbourne leads with “Gloom spreads as US financial giant collapses.”

In another part of the world, The Jerusalem Post in Israel leads with “Credit crisis topples US financial icon,” Today’s Zaman in Istanbul says, “Turkey alarmed by Lehman fallout,” and Gulf News in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, plays up “Lehman bankruptcy sparks market chaos.”

In Europe, La Tribune in Paris banners an Alan Greenspan quote: “I’ve never seen anything like this.” Die Welt in Berlin reports a “Black day for the banks,” the Liechtensteiner Volksblatt in postage stamp-sized Liechtenstein headlines its story “Black Monday,” while The Daily Telegraph in London prefers “Meltdown Monday” and The Guardian in London calls it “Nightmare on Wall Street.” The European edition of Stars and Stripes, published in Griesheim, Germany, for American servicemen abroad, reports “Financial breakdown,” with the drop head “Collapse of 2 Wall Street firms sends markets tumbling around the world,” adding brief comments from the two candidates for president. The International Herald Tribune in Paris accurately notes in its lead headline that “Crisis rattles markets and nerves.”

Looking at our South American neighbors, El Pais in Montevideo, Uruguay, reports that “The earthquake in Wall Street shoots the dollar,” while Perú.21 in Lima has a big “Black Monday” over a graph-type arrow heading way down. Wall Street is big news today.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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September 15, 2008

Weather, Wall Street top the news
for many U.S. daily newspapers

By Gene Mater

Wall Street and weather top the news for many of the U.S. dailies this morning, with The New York Times leading with “Bids to halt financial crisis reshape landscape of Wall St.” and a lead about “one of the most dramatic days in Wall Street’s history,” referring to the problems of Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers. Its off-lead was the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in Texas.

The Washington Post does much the same, with a banner about “Massive shifts on Wall St.” and a large photo of hurricane destruction near Galveston, Texas.

A sampling of the Texas newspapers finds the Austin American-Statesman bannering “Returning to find ruins,” The Beaumont Enterprise telling evacuees “Don’t rush back,” the Corpus Christi Caller Times reporting “Unprecedented effort saves 2,000,” and The Dallas Morning News quoting the mayor with “Do not come back to Galveston.”

The Houston Chronicle leads with “After the shock, reality,” while warning in a Page One editorial that “It’s not over, yet.”

The Midwest also had major weather problems. The Chicago Sun-Times reports “More rain more pain,” illustrated with a couple of young men paddling their boat past a partially submerged car on what was a street. The South Bend Tribune says it all with a head about “One weekend, 11 inches” – of rain that is.

The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky. reports “Winds maul area,” with schools closed and 279,000 without power in the city, and The Cincinnati Enquirer says, “90% suffer outages as winds smash area.”

In the rest of the country, the Los Angeles Times leads with “Wall St. scrambles as banks teeter,” while playing up the train accident in the area that killed 25. The Denver Post and The Miami Herald give top treatment to Wall Street but both report the same about Galveston: “You cannot live here” now. The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Boston Globe lead with Wall Street but also report the 2,000 rescued from Hurricane Ike in Texas.

Meanwhile, the upcoming election can’t be forgotten up in Alaska, where the Anchorage Daily News squares off “Governor’s use of 2 e-mail accounts questioned” while leading with “Turmoil shocks financial markets.”

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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September 12, 2008

The anniversary, the hurricane
and the Palin interview

By Emily Hedges

On the day after the seventh anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, many editors all over the U.S. decided to use the front pages to remember the tragedy. Denver's Rocky Mountain News had a large photo of the two presidential candidates together in New York with the headline "Common ground zero." The Orlando Sentinel reported on the New York, D.C. and Pennsylvania 9/11 memorials and the status of each. Long Island's Newsday used a touching photo of a firefighter holding his infant son at "Ground Zero 9/11/08," and the suburban Chicago Daily Herald's headline said what we were all thinking: "It's Still With Us."

Hurricane Ike is raging in the Gulf of Mexico. The effects have been felt all along the Gulf Coast, including Florida, where the Pensacola News-Journal's clever headline read "Surf's Way Up." The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss., had "YIKES!" above the newspaper's nameplate. But, of course, Texas will feel the strongest effects of Ike. Most of the Texas front pages have coverage of the hurricane today, including the Fort Worth Star-Telegram which quoted the National Weather Service warning of "certain death" in its front-page headline. The Waco Tribune-Herald showed the back-up of evacuees on the highway under the headline "Texans stream north."

Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska and GOP vice presidential nominee, sat down yesterday for her first major interview since accepting the nomination. Her home state's Anchorage Daily News headline read "ABC tests Palin on foreign policy." The Bakersfield Californian repeated Palin's assertion "I'm ready" for its headline. The New York Post called her interview a "Call to Arms" and said "Sarah talks tough as son goes to war." Not all papers focused on her interview though. Cheyenne, Wyo.'s Tribune-Eagle used its front page to talk about Sarah's spectacles. "Palin's glasses are hot, hot, hot!" cried the lighthearted headline.

Emily Hedges is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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September 11, 2008

9/11: Seven years and counting

By Bridget Gutierrez

Anniversaries of historic events are curious affairs. Sometimes they’re a big deal to newspaper editors, sometimes they’re not. Exhibit A: The seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is front-page news in some communities, and not in others.

The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, and the San Francisco Chronicle all produced fresh Page One news today by tying the date to current headlines, including the presidential campaign, trials of military detainees and the troubling economy. Others, like the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News and the Chicago Tribune, marked the day with front-page photos, but referred readers to apparently less-important anniversary stories inside.

The Boston Globe, Baltimore’s The Sun and The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch gave their 9/11 articles the centerpiece treatment and local angles — as did the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, The State in Columbia, S.C., The Anniston (Ala.) Star, Hernando Today in Brooksville, Fla. and the Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin, which asked in an emotion-filled headline: “When, if ever, does the mourning end?”

Several, including papers in towns far from the coordinated air attacks in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., approached today as many newspapers did the first anniversary: with unexpected and untraditional designs. Among them, the Asbury (N.J.) Park Press, Bluffton (S.C.) Today, and the Daily Journal in Tupelo, Miss.

While visitors to the Newseum’s 9/11 gallery can reflect on the still-terrifying news any day of the year, there’s no denying whether New York’s Newsday considers Sept. 11, 2008, to be an important anniversary. The tabloid’s front cover is dominated by a full-page, bold No. 7.

Bridget Gutierrez is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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September 10, 2008

Big Bang Experiment
Is Big Story in Europe

By Hicks Wogan

Early this morning, around 2:30 a.m. EST, scientists in Europe launched a hugely ambitious and controversial experiment. Today’s European newspapers announce the project’s start with front-page stories.

The Large Hadron Collider is the biggest particle accelerator ever constructed. Located in a 27-kilometer-long tunnel beneath the earth’s surface at the France-Switzerland border, the LHC is designed to smash together atomic particles and simulate the Big Bang that created our universe. About a month from now, particles like those test-fired today will begin colliding and scientists hope to start learning about how the universe developed. La Repubblica in Rome notes the news with the headline, “Oggi il Big Bang in un tunnel di 27 chilometri, così nacque l’universo,” which translates roughly as, “Today the Big Bang in a 27-kilometer tunnel, like this the universe was born.” (Please pardon my Italian, Roman friends. Mi scusi.) In Spain, Madrid’s Público features a photo of the LHC, along with the time it was set to launch, and “Europa inicia la búsqueda del origen del universe” (or, “Europe begins the search for the origin of the universe”).

The LHC has been in construction for 14 years, has cost about $9 billion, and has involved the work of more than 10,000 scientists. Nuernberger Nachrichten, a paper published in Nurnberg, Germany, carries the headline, “Gigantisches Forschungsprojekt startet” (or, “Giant Research Project launches”). Two Romanian papers — the Jurnal Aradean, published in Arad, and Cluj-Napoca’s Informatia de Cluj — have impressive photos showing the size of the LHC. Look for the hardhat-wearing men dwarfed by the collider.

Also in Madrid, El Pais notes that the project is “En busca de la ‘partícula Dios,’” or, “In search of the ‘God particle.’” “God particle” is the nickname given to the Higgs boson, a theoretical particle that could unlock the secret of why matter has mass.

Deus ex machina indeed.

As excitement has grown in the scientific community, doomsday theories have arisen outside of it. Critics of the project have argued it might create black holes capable of swallowing the Earth. Il Tirreno in Livorno, Italy, profiles the “Big Bang in laboratorio” and has a sub-headline that reads, “Tranquilli, non sarà la fine del mondo” (“Don’t worry, it won’t be the end of the world”). In recent interviews renowned British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, like the editors at Il Tirreno, has sought to ease worries. London’s The Daily Telegraph kids the doomsday notion by placing the headline, “If it’s 8.31 and you’re still reading this …” above a photo of the LHC. Below the photo: “… then Professor Hawking was right.”

Hicks Wogan is a staff assistant at the Newseum.

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September 9, 2008

With national elections a year away,
German newspapers whoop up politics

By Gene Mater

The United States is not the only country where an upcoming election rates Page One attention. Germany has a national election due a year from now but every one of the 16 daily newspapers on our Web site from that country today has a Page One story bearing on the election, generally involving the selection of a new leader for the SPD, the Socialist Party, and the challenge facing current Chancellor Angela Merkel. And the challenger will be Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, an SPD leader in Merkel’s coalition government.

The Augsburger Allgemeine in Augsburg has a picture of Steinmeier with the new Socialist leader and the head “New SPD-Duo goes on the offensive,” Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin focuses on the ousted SPD leader who “will continue to fight,” Die Tageszeitung in Berlin has a big photo of the candidate and the new party leader and a commentary headed “Back to the future,” while the third Berlin daily, Die Welt, also whoops up the SPD change. In Bielefeld, the Neue Westfaelische reports the SPD is ready to take on Merkel, the Braunschweiger Zeitung in Braunschweig reports about the new SPD leader and the two dailies in Bremen — Bremer Nachrichten and the Weser Kurier — do the same.

Even the Financial Times Deutschland in Hamburg has a photo of the two, with a head reporting that the SPD will not follow a course to the left, the Fuldaer Zeitung in Fulda focuses on SPD party discipline, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung in Munich reports on the SPD and the economic situation, the Nuernberger Zeitung in Nuernberg quotes the SPD leader about surprises to come while the Passauer Neue Presse in Passau leads with Merkel congratulating Steinmeier on being selected to challenge her in next year’s election. The Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten in Potsdam and the Suedwest Presse in lovely Ulm focus on the new ”duo” leading the Socialist Party while the Wolfsburger Nachrichten reports about the new SPD leader to its readers in one of the newest towns in Germany, Wolfsburg, built only about 70 years ago to house the workers of the then-new Volkswagen factory.

For the American readers who might complain about coverage overkill of an election two months away, try the German press for an election a year away.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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September 8, 2008

Dailies report mortgage giants’ takeover
while worrying about another hurricane

By Gene Mater

Two stories rate special attention today — the federal takeover of the two mortgage giants and the weather — the weather that was, the weather that is and the weather that may be.

Looking at the Florida dailies, the storm that is today and possibly tomorrow’s big story is Hurricane Ike, which has been slamming Cuba and seems headed for Florida. Harking back to the 1952 election, when supporters of Dwight D. Eisenhower wore buttons with the slogan “I LIKE IKE,” Hernando Today in Brooksville speaks for just about everyone in the state with the head “We don’t like Ike,” while the Bradenton Herald banners “Government seizes mortgage giants” but plays up the “Danger Zone” with a photo and map, noting that “Authorities beg Key West residents to evacuate.” The Charlotte Sun leads with “Keys residents weigh evacuation” but also reports “Government takes over mortgage giants”; The Daytona Beach News-Journal takes on “Hurricane Season 2008” with a map and “Keys residents weigh evacuation ahead of Ike” but doesn’t forget the mortgage story; and the Sun Sentinel in Ft. Lauderdale banners “U.S. mortgage takeover” above the nameplate but leads with “Ike slams into Cuba” and a report about South Florida being “frazzled but lucky” after the storms. El Nuevo Herald in Miami leads with “Ike desata su furia,” or “Ike unleashes its fury.”

With Louisiana another state that may be hit by the hurricane, The Times-Picayune in New Orleans banners “State keeps close eye on menacing Ike” while updating the problems of the previous storm with a couple of stories, including one about “More lights flicker to life.” The Advocate in Baton Rouge reports “Keep watch on Ike” but also notes that “Many still waiting for power” after the last storm while The Times in Shreveport plays up that the previous storm “drained coffers” with “Local non-profits feeling the pinch.”

In North Carolina, hit by the previous storm and concerned about the next one, The Fayetteville Observer reports that “Officials in Ike’s path worry about hurricane fatigue setting in,” The Daily Reflector in Greenville leads with “Powerful Ike churns towards Gulf of Mexico” and the Winston-Salem Journal reports “Ike pointed at Havana, Dumps on Haiti.”

We’re not there but we agree with the folks at Hernando Today — this time we don’t like Ike.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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September 5, 2008

McCain’s acceptance speech
uses words of reformer, maverick

By Kate Kennedy

John McCain’s speech accepting the Republican nomination for president was almost 4,000 words long. Two of those words stood out in today’s headlines: Fight and change.

“McCain issues a call to fight for country,” The Arizona Republic in Phoenix said about the Arizona senator who has made his maverick style a campaign theme. The New York Times noted that McCain used the word “fight” 43 times during the speech. The Chicago Tribune and The Indianapolis Star used one of those references: “‘Stand up and fight.’”

Florida newspapers seized on the use of the word “change” by the four-term senator. “‘Change is coming,’ McCain promises GOP,” The Tampa Tribune said. “McCain wows audience at RNC, says ‘change is coming,’” the Tallahassee Democrat said. “Change coming, McCain pledges,” said Florida Today in Melbourne. “‘Change is coming’ in D.C., nation, McCain promises,” The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville said.

The Kansas City (Mo.) Star and The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle combined the use of the two words. “McCain says he’ll fight for change,” the Eagle said. In reverse type, The Kansas City Star printed the quote “‘Fight for what’s right’” and added below, “Change is coming, nominee vows.”

Beyond coverage of the speech, the U.S.’s largest newspapers took different approaches to sidebars. The New York Times said in an analysis, “The Party in Power, Running as if It Weren’t.” The Los Angeles Times examined how the Republican Party “portrays itself as in sync with America.” The Washington Post took a more broad view, looking at the next 60 days for both Republicans and Democrats. USA Today suggested “Seismic shifts in demographics … could reshape America’s political system.”

McCain’s photo appeared in the center of the Anchorage Daily News, but the three stories were about his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press reported that hundreds more anti-war protesters were arrested in the convention city. Its Web site included a database of county jail bookings.

In his speech, McCain, a veteran, mentioned his support of the military “surge” in Iraq. The Washington Post (prompted by a report by Fox News) previewed Bob Woodward’s new book The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008. The Post quoted the book as saying “the U.S. troop ‘surge’ … was not the primary factor behind the steep drop in violence there during the past 16 months.”

In Detroit, the Free Press and The News reported McCain’s speech on their regular front pages. They also responded to their mayor’s resignation after pleading guilty to felony charges in a perjury case. The Free Press published a 20-page section. “Scandal that crippled city ends with 2 felony convictions, 4 months in jail,” it said. The News printed an eight-page section that was highlighted by the word “Surrender.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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September 4, 2008

Palin fires back after questions
about her qualifications

By Kate Kennedy

VP nominee Sarah Palin came out swinging — against her critics, her political rivals and the media — Wednesday night in a prime-time speech to the Republican convention.

Headline writers used varying verbs to describe her actions:

  • “Palin pulls no punches” — the Billings (Mont.) Gazette

  • “Palin dissects opponents” — Las Vegas (Nev.) Review-Journal

  • “Rallies delegates by skewering media, Washington establishment” — Houston Chronicle

The Anchorage Daily in Palin’s home state of Alaska devoted the entire front page to convention events and said, “Governor goes on the offensive while introducing herself to nation.” The New York Times said Palin’s speech “Electrifies Convention.” Said The Sun of Baltimore, “Republican VP choice is roundly cheered as she defends her executive experience, mocks Obama.”

Other headlines also used the word “mocks” to describe her comments about Democrat Barack Obama. “GOP running mate mocks Obama as out-of-touch elitist who would ‘forfeit’ on Iraq,” The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tenn., said.

Fresh off covering the Democratic convention, the Denver newspapers showed they still had spirit. The Rocky Mountain News called the speech “A fine how do you do,” and the Post borrowed from Palin’s remarks for its headline: “‘Pit bull’ Palin.” The Daily News in New York went even further with Palin’s remarks — “Pit Bull in Lipstick.”

Palin calls herself a hockey mom, and that label gave headline writers inspiration. “‘Hockey mom’ Palin uncorks bruising shots,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution declared. From Canada, where hockey is king, the Toronto Star said, “Palin aims, fires.”

From the convention city of St. Paul, the Pioneer Press looked at why Palin — and not Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty — was John McCain’s choice: “She has a greater reputation for reform and conservatism — and plenty of human interest.”

Looking ahead to McCain’s acceptance speech tonight, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis pictured the senator and said, “Today, it’s his town and his party.” But in an analysis of Palin’s speech, the San Francisco Chronicle said, “Running mate’s sudden celebrity threatens to eclipse star of the show.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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September 3, 2008

GOP gets down to business
after hurricane delay

By John Maynard

With that pesky Hurricane Gustav behind them, the Republicans finally got their party started last night on Day 2 of the Republican National Convention. And judging from this morning’s front-page headlines, the GOP came out swinging.

“McCain Hailed, Obama Assailed,” read the same headline in three separate newspapers — the North County Times (Escondido, Calif.), the Times Daily (Florence, Ala.) and The Times-Tribune (Scranton, Pa.).

Countless papers also led with “McCain ‘Ready to Lead’” — including the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch — quoting President Bush’s speech via satellite from the White House praising the Arizona senator.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., played good cop/bad cop last night, simultaneously praising McCain while launching into Sen. Barack Obama. In Lieberman’s home state, the New Haven Register accentuated the positive with the headline “Lieberman Leads GOP Cheers,” while the Hartford Courant classified his speech as “Lieberman’s Risk.”

Several newspapers also preview tonight’s speech by controversial vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. “Can She Deliver?” asks the Washington, D.C., Examiner. “Tonight, It’s Palin’s Show,” bellows The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee. The Chicago Tribune calls it “Palin’s Big Test.”

The Boston Herald wins the coveted “Newseum Front Page of the Day” award with its picture of Palin pointing an assault rifle at readers with the headline, “Back Off.”

Meanwhile, newspapers in Florida have one eye on the convention but another twitchy eye on another serious weather threat. “Here They Come,” warns the Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale about the hurricane trifecta of Hanna, Ike and Josephine, which are making their way toward the East Coast. "Republicans can breathe a sigh a relief, though. These babies aren’t expected to hit until the weekend."

John Maynard is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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September 2, 2008

Hurricane, pregnancy take the play
from GOP convention opening

By Gene Mater

The grand opening of the convention of the Grand Old Party yesterday should have been the big story today, but two other events took the play on many front pages.

One was the Gulf Coast hit by Hurricane Gustav, whose wrath varied with how far you were from the scene. The other was the announcement that Sarah Palin, presumptive Republican vice presidential nominee, has an unmarried pregnant teenage daughter. And although even the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate suggested that reporters “back off” the pregnancy story, no one really agreed that “people’s children are especially off-limits,” as suggested by Barack Obama.

The New York Times leads with “Spared a direct hit, New Orleans exhales,” with the off-lead “Palin disclosures spotlight McCain’s screening process,” reporting that a vetting team is now in Alaska to check out the candidate. The Washington Post leads with “Hurricane, Palin Roil the Start of GOP Convention” but “New Orleans Levees Tested as Gustav Lashes Gulf Coast” rates a bigger head. Both dailies have storm photos on Page One.

In Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News runs a banner headline “Pregnancy steals spotlight,” although one of the drop heads notes that “Both campaigns call it a private family matter; Palin retains GOP popularity.”

Down where the hurricane hit, the storm was big news. Starting with Louisiana, The Times-Picayune in New Orleans banners “SAFE AT HOME,” adding “No flooding, but massive power outages as Gustav weakens” with a big photo dominating the page. The Town Talk in Alexandria banners “GUSTAV MARCHES IN” and all the rest of the page is about the storm, and The Advocate in Baton Rouge reports “BR pounded” and warns that “Paper’s delivery may be late.”

In Mississippi, according to the Sun Herald in Biloxi, a one-word banner says it all: “HAMMERED.” The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson goes with “BLOWING THROUGH,” Daily Journal in Tupelo tells its readers that “Gustav slams Gulf Coast,” and The Mississippi Press in Pascagoula heaves a sigh with the banner “County escapes major damage.”

Parts of Texas in the path the storm also played it up, with the Temple Daily Telegram leading with “Waiting for Gustav to fade away,” The Beaumont Enterprise asking “Gustav who?,” adding that “Residents trickle back into town after mandatory evacuation order,” and The Lufkin Daily News warning its readers that “Hard winds and heavy rain expected as hurricane’s effects likely to hit Angelina County.”

Meanwhile in the convention city, the Pioneer Press in St. Paul, Minn., calls it all “Composed…chaotic,” while the Star Tribune in Minneapolis leads with “For GOP, a day of distractions.” The West Central Tribune in nearby Willmar, Minn., offers some hope with the banner “Normal convention could start today.”

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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August 29, 2008

Front pages embrace change
to report acceptance speech

By Kate Kennedy

The Oregonian in Portland said it was a “Nomination like no other,” and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times called it a “Dream Night.”

And so a special night deserved a special page.

Many front pages changed their formats to incorporate large photos, large headlines, pulled quotes and other special treatments to share news from Barack Obama’s speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president.

“Obama’s Promise,” The Denver Post said. With just one story on its special convention front page, it added: “On historic night, nominee vows path to prosperity, justice.”

Two-thirds of The Plain Dealer of Cleveland was a dramatic Getty Images photo of Obama on stage at Denver’s Invesco Field. The Chicago Tribune used an AP photo with flags waving. The Indianapolis Star and The Kansas City (Mo.) Star showed Obama before a sea of “Change” placards. The Houston Chronicle printed a photo of the Obamas and the Bidens the width of its page. The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk pictured a crowded stadium and said, “Amid a Sea of Support, Obama Accepts Nod.” The Bakersfield Californian managed to include eight photos to illustrate convention news.

Headlines focused on Obama’s words. “‘America, now is not the time for small plans,’” The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press quoted Obama. California front pages alone showed the range of quotes from the speech before more than 75,000. The Sun, San Bernardino: “‘It’s about you.’” Daily Breeze, Torrance: “‘Eight is Enough.’” The Oakland Tribune: “‘Now is the time.’” Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Ontario: “‘I get it.’”

What wasn’t on the front page: News of John McCain’s GOP running mate wasn’t leaked. McCain will appear today with his choice in Dayton, Ohio, where the Daily News said, “McCain arrives, stays mum about VP.”

Of things to come: On the front page of The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, convention news shared the stage with a potential hurricane targeting the Gulf of Mexico. “Evacuation order ‘very probable’ for Saturday,” it said ahead of Tropical Storm Gustav. “State, federal agencies prepare united response,” The Times of Shreveport, La., reported. Today is the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and the timing of Gustav’s arrival put the coastal areas on edge. “Nerves Tighten,” the Sun Herald of Biloxi, Miss., said. Florida front pages also were keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Hanna in the Atlantic. “Storms Flank Florida,” The Tampa Tribune said.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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August 28, 2008

Page 1 records Obama
nomination for history

By Kate Kennedy

“A night for history.”

USA Today said it best after Democrats made history by being the first major party to nominate an African-American for president.

It was unbelievable news for some, including a California delegate who 45 years ago marched on Washington and listened to Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “45 Years Later, Witnesses to Dr. King’s Dream See A New Hope,” The New York Times said. The Plain Dealer of Cleveland printed a Newsday piece that began, “So many Americans thought this moment would never come.” The Chicago Sun-Times used two words: “Believe it.”

The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk pictured its former governor — the U.S.’s first African-American governor — and said Douglas Wilder and other black politicians went to the convention “to witness the moment.”

The Dallas Morning News said, “Obama’s nomination has the nation in unfamiliar territory.” The Boston Globe noted a “Changing of the Guard,” in reporting that a new generation of civil rights leaders was given prime-time speaking slots at the Democratic National Convention.

At the end of the night, nominee Barack Obama made a surprise visit to the convention, joining VP nominee Joe Biden on stage. Photos of the two appeared almost everywhere. The Denver Post called it “Nominees’ Night.”

The Washington Post said, “Candidate Gets Boost From the Clintons” and offered an analysis of former President Bill Clinton’s endorsing speech.

“Historic, by acclamation,” The Philadelphia Inquirer said, noting that Obama gained the nomination after Sen. Hillary Clinton stopped a roll-call vote after 30 states and territories and called for nomination by acclamation. “Clinton interrupts roll call to direct all ‘ayes’ on him,” the Arkansas Democrat Gazette of Little Rock said.

In a treatment that stood out from others, the Los Angeles Times used a sketch of Obama with a profile in advance of tonight’s acceptance speech. “Barack Obama, half black and half white, fights the undertow of race,” it said. The Chicago Tribune noted tonight’s challenge for Obama: “Not only inspire us but reach us where we live.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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August 27, 2008

Hillary story unites front pages

By Patty Rhule

When we want a jazzy headline, we turn to New York’s tabloids, which didn’t disappoint in reporting on Hillary Clinton’s swan song to her presidential bid at the Democratic convention.

“Heal-ary,” blared New York’s Daily News — but with a teaser to a story inside that indicated a touch of doubt: “What she said and what she really meant.”

The Chicago Sun-Times took a bottom-line approach atop a photo of a smiling Sen. Barack Obama watching the speech: “Obama’s Verdict: ‘She Delivered.’ ”

“Clinton closes the book on her historic quest,” wrote The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., with a subhead using one of Clinton’s funniest quips, “She urges ‘sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits’ to get behind Obama.”

“Team Obama” was how the Rocky Mountain News in Denver saw it.

“Clinton Puts Obama First, Only,” said Clinton’s former home-state paper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock. Its subhead referred to a local Democratic leader who was killed just before the Democratic convention: “Speech praises Gwatney, takes jabs at McCain.”

“Reaching across the great divide,” said The Dispatch in Casa Grande, Ariz., in GOP rival John McCain’s home state. “Clinton salutes Obama, Democrats rip McCain,” it added.

The Bakersfield Californian had Clinton in glorious orange under the headline “A Plea for Unity” with a subhead that quoted from her speech “… the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose.”

No translation was necessary for La Opinion’s headline, quoting Clinton: “Obama es mi candidato.”

“Clinton claims moment,” said the Merrillville, Ind., Post-Tribune, atop a lovely AP photo of Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea. “Runner-up to Obama in bitter primary makes case for her rival with eye on own political future.” Phew, that about covers it.

But “Some aren’t over the Hill,” reported The Gazette in Colorado Springs, reflecting Clinton supporters who aren’t sold on Obama.

The Honolulu Advertiser was simpatico. “A bittersweet day for some,” it said.

Patty Rhule is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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August 26, 2008

Ted Kennedy snags some headlines
as Democratic convention opens

By Gene Mater

Michelle Obama might have been the headliner, but Ted Kennedy also netted some of the headlines from last night’s opening of the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Some editors twinned up Michelle Obama and Sen. Kennedy, and others gave the play to the presidential candidate’s wife.

The East Valley Tribune in Scottsdale, Ariz., has a big photo of the smiling senator and the headline “Ailing Kennedy electrifies convention,” the Arkansas Democrat Gazette in Little Rock leads with “Kennedy fires up Democrats,” while the San Francisco Chronicle has as its off-lead “Rousing salute as Kennedy passes torch” and The Lewiston Tribune in Idaho banners “Kennedy calls upon party faithful.” The tabloid New York Post fills Page One with a Kennedy photo and the headline “Old lion roars.” And The Boston Globe said, “Kennedy’s speech sets the agenda for all the speeches to follow.”

The Palm Beach Post in Florida gives primary play to “Wife reveals Obama’s soft side, urges lesson from ‘improbable’ rise,” with a separate story that “Kennedy’s speech galvanizes crowd.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution seems to combine the two with “Wife: Obama believes in American dream” and the drop headline “ ‘Hopes rise again,’ Kennedy says in praising candidate.” The Corvallis (Ore.) Gazette-Times banners “Kennedy, Michelle Obama rally Dems,” even as The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., reports, “Obama, Kennedy urge Democrats to unite.” For the Chicago Sun-Times, it’s all Michelle, referred to as “South Side pride,” and our friends at The Monitor in McAllen, Texas, lead with “Michelle wows ’em.”

What about the newspapers in Colorado where all this is happening? Well, that’s a special case. The Denver Post’s convention front page, separate from its regular front page, carries the nameplate The Denver Post & Politico and is all about the political doings and the banner head “Michelle’s view.” The Aurora Sentinel has a big photo of the delegates assembled and the headline “Dems pack the house”; The Gazette in Colorado Springs plays up Michelle Obama’s “Family, values and a dream speech” with a bigger picture of a teen delegate to the convention; the Fort Collins Coloradoan plays up opening night with photos and a story; and The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction focuses on Western states being a key to election victory while reporting Michelle Obama’s speech, with picture.

Finally, perhaps we missed others but we found only one Tammy Wynette fan among today’s editors. The Washington, D.C., edition of The Examiner has a big picture of today’s heroine with the head “Michelle stands by her man.”

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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August 25, 2008

Olympics’ end, convention’s start
make for lively, newsy Monday

By Gene Mater

The Olympics ended yesterday, and the Democratic National Convention begins tonight in Denver, giving big and small U.S. dailies more Page One news than might be hoped for on a Monday morning in August.

The Tuscaloosa News in Alabama squares off a hometown angle to “Local Dems head for Denver,” while asking, “After glow of games, what’s next for China?” The East Valley Tribune in Mesa, Ariz., answers that with much of the front page devoted to “Games impact enduring,” and “McCain rips Obama’s choice of Biden for VP.” The North County Times in Escondido, Calif., takes a middle-of-the-road approach to the games with “Mixed legacy likely for China’s Olympics,” while leading with “Obama aims for vote of blue-collar workers,” a head similar to many seen this morning.

Closer to the convention scene, the Aurora Sentinel in Colorado has a big front page photo of cops at the ready with the caption “IT’S SHOWTIME! Protests snarl traffic ahead of opening day of the Democratic convention in Denver.” Its Olympics story is inside but teased on Page One with “USA closes out Olympics with hoops redemption.” The Day in New London, Conn., has an Olympics photo and asks, “What’s the next act for China?” while noting that “Democrats heading to Denver see that there is work to do.”

VP candidate Joe Biden is the lead story in his home state daily, The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., with “Biden’s test: female voters,” while also reporting that “China garners praise for Olympics.” The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla., tells its readers that “All Fla. delegates in place” and expected “to be key again,” while still playing up the Olympics with a picture and a look to the 2012 games in London.

In Marietta, Ga., the Daily Journal leads with “Obama, Clinton focusing on unity,” and also reporting, “Olympics take final bow in Beijing.” The Journal Star in Peoria, Ill., leads with the familiar “Obama targets middle class” but the big picture goes with “Celebrating Olympic success.” The Times-Republican in Marshalltown, Iowa, uses about a quarter of its front page to say “Farewell Beijing,” while also noting Obama’s blue-collar approach.

The Lansing State Journal in Michigan uses much of Page One to report “16 ‘glorious’ days of Olympic feats go out with superstar-studded bang,” and noting that “Dems in Denver pursue harmony, history, humility.” We’ll see about that later in the week.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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August 22, 2008

A little housekeeping
before political conventions

By Kate Kennedy

“How many houses do you and Mrs. McCain have?” Politico asked what seemed like a simple question of John McCain. But his response — that his staff would provide an answer — created a round of campaign sparring — and headlines.

The senator and his wife, Cindy, a beer heiress, have homes in several locations:

Arizona: The Arizona Republic pictured a Phoenix condominium tower: “Homing in on McCain Slip.”

Metro Washington, D.C.: “Houses Add Up to A Snag for McCain,” The Washington Post said. Its Style section offered, “Take the McCain House Tour!” adding “With Places to Hang His Hat On Two Coasts – and a Few in Between – the Candidate is Living Large.”

California: “How many homes?” the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek asked. “McCain isn’t sure.” The Tribune in San Luis Obispo noted the fallout, “Obama quick to pounce on McCain’s home gaffe.”

McCain’s stumble and his opponent’s reaction opened doors for headline writers. Los Angeles Times: “McCain blunder leaves him looking for political shelter.” The Seattle Times: “Candidates’ sparring hits closer to home.”

The New York Times noted that the political rivals are “Sparring Over Wealth, Seeking Tie to Voters.” The Star Tribune of Minneapolis said, “‘Rich’ becomes four-letter word on the campaign trail.” And from The Oregonian in Portland: “Candidates vie for common-man credential.”

What’s not on the front page: Barack Obama’s choice for VP. All week, VP stories like the one today from the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa, have been appearing on front pages. “VP pick a secret,” said the Post in Denver, which hosts the Democratic convention beginning Monday.

The News Journal in Wilmington pictured reporters camped outside the Delaware home of Sen. Joe Biden, often mentioned as a possibility. “Betting on Biden, but no peep on veep.” The News Journal aggregated its coverage in an online Joe Biden page.

From Sen. Evan Bayh’s home state, The Indianapolis Star summed it up: “Obama’s pick: For him to know, us to find out.” Obama and his VP choice will appear Saturday in Springfield, Ill. Advised The State Journal Register: “Be prepared to be patient for Obama.” We already have been.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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August 21, 2008

Lightning Bolt strikes
in Beijing; storm wallops Fla.

By Kate Kennedy

A newspaper’s mission is to inform, enlighten, entertain and engage. With disaster on the front page, today’s priority is to inform.

In Florida, where Tropical Storm Fay is about to make its third landfall, Florida Today broke out numbers as “‘Catastrophic’ flooding” hit the Space Coast. The newspaper promoted online extras and invited readers to contribute their stories, saying: “Help us keep you informed.”

“Lingering storm drenches coast,” The Daytona Beach News-Journal said. In promoting inside coverage, it added, “Find out what’s closed, where to get sandbags and other important information.”

After first moving through Key West, Fay made landfall near Naples, where the Naples Daily News paired a state and a local story today, along with a map charting Fay’s course. The Orlando Sentinel tallied rainfall totals. The Palm Beach Post, which pictured a resident chest-deep in water, promoted the more than 100 additional photos on its Web site and invited readers to submit their pictures. Highlands Today in Sebring reported the first Fay-related fatality.

USA Today noted that the crash of a Spanair plane on Wednesday has “drawn worldwide attention” in a time of unprecedented aviation safety improvements. The crash that killed 153 people dominated Spain’s front-page news, including on El Mundo and Público in Madrid, where the flight originated.

The Plain Dealer of Cleveland devoted much of today’s page to the death of Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio. The Plain Dealer was among many news organizations that prematurely reported the death of the Democratic congresswoman from a brain aneurysm Wednesday afternoon. Tubbs Jones’ family announced her death Wednesday night.

Today’s photo: Usain Bolt of Jamaica set a world record in the 200-meter dash in Beijing, and images of the world’s fastest man appeared on many front pages. The Times of Johannesburg, South Africa, said: “Lightning Bolt Strikes Again.”

Today in history: Aug. 21 marks the 40th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, ending the country’s democratic reform movement called the Prague Spring. Hospodarske Noviny and Lidove Noviny in Prague marked the anniversary, and Mladá Fronta DNES reprinted a photo from the time and referred to a special magazine. Slovakia was part of Czechoslovakia, and SME in Bratislava also noted the anniversary in photo and text.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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August 20, 2008

Local Olympians are front-page news

By Emily Hedges

The Beijing Olympics are almost two weeks old, and yet, all over America, newspapers are still putting photos and stories from the games on their front pages. Today, let's focus on the "local athlete" angle that many papers are playing up on their front pages.

Olympic wrestler — and son of illegal immigrants — Henry Cejudo won gold by defeating Japan's Tomohiro Matsunaga. The Arizona Republic featured Cejudo on the front page, identifying him as a former wrestling champion of Maryvale High School in Phoenix. "Precious Mettle" was the headline for the Rocky Mountain News story on Cejudo, who was identified as a Coloradoan here, as he wrestled at a Colorado high school also.

Santa Ana, Calif.'s Orange County Register identified several local female athletes and their accomplishments on the front page under the headline "Women Rule." The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.) also had photos of several local athletes in Beijing mentioned on their front page. Not all have been successful, though — Baton Rouge resident Lolo Jones tripped on a hurdle, relinquishing her lead and a gold medal in the 100-meter hurdles — as evidenced by the headline, "Olympic Highs & Lows."

Anna Tunnicliffe became the first South Floridian to win a gold medal in Beijing, according to The Miami Herald. (Tunnicliffe was also mentioned in Hampton Roads, Va.'s Link because she is an Old Dominion graduate.) Another Floridian, Tampa native Damu Cherry, lost her medal bid in the 100-meter hurdles by ".01 Seconds" according to the headline of The Tampa Tribune. The winner of that 100-meter hurdles race, Dawn Harper, was featured under the headline "Golden Dawn" on the front page of her home state's Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat.

Ever hear of Klamath Falls, Ore.? Well, Olympian Ian Dobson has — he's from the area, and his photo and a blurb were put above the nameplate of the local Herald and News even though he hadn't yet competed at press time. The Tulsa (Okla.) World celebrated former University of Oklahoma gymnast Jonathan Horton's silver medal on the horizontal bar, and The Salt Lake Tribune had a photo of Olympic volleyball player Logan Tom on the front page. Bet she's not often referred to as a "Highland High School graduate" anymore, but she was on her hometown front page.

The more well-known Olympians may be front-page news all over the country, and they are front-page staples in their home states as well. Shawn Johnson, Iowa native and face of U.S. gymnastics, won gold on the balance beam and the story was on many Iowa front pages, including the Sioux City Journal, which also ran a front-page story on how Johnson was inspiring other local gymnasts. The Baltimore native and winner of eight gold medals in Beijing, Michael Phelps, was still on the front page of The Examiner in Baltimore, and today he was pictured with another local sports hero, Cal Ripken Jr.

Emily Hedges is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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August 19, 2008

Pakistan’s Musharraf resigns,
making Page 1 news in many places

By Gene Mater

The thinking person’s Big Story today is the downfall of strongman Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan and the confusion that may reign, even if briefly, in his place. And that story choice goes for editors and readers who might not be able to pick out Pakistan on an unlabeled map of the world.

It’s the lead story in The New York Times — “Musharraf out, leaving factions to vie for power;” The Washington Post — “Musharraf exits, but uncertainty remains;” The Washington Times — “Musharraf leaves doubts;” USA Today — “Pakistan’s transition could be rocky;” and The Wall Street Journal — “Musharraf resigns, leaving a shaky Pakistan in his wake.”

Even The Herald in Miami, where Floridians are worried more about a tropical storm than almost anything else, leads with “Pakistan upheaval clouds future for U.S.”

Many of the rest of the U.S. dailies pointed up other aspects of the Pakistan story. For The Denver Post, it’s “Musharraf’s resignation boosts worries over Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, Taliban,” The Oregonian in Portland reports in its off-lead story that “Musharraf resignation puts U.S. in a bind,” Valley News in West Lebanon, N.H., says “Musharraf exit raises new issues,” and The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., leads with “Pakistan tiptoes into a cloudy future without Musharraf.”

The Star-Tribune in Minneapolis has an unchallengeable off-lead — “Pakistan troubles outlast president.” The Yakima Herald-Republic in Washington notes at the bottom of Page One that “Pakistani leader’s exit brings new problems,” The Birmingham News in Alabama anchors the bottom of the page with a photo and “Musharraf leaves leadership void,” Bangor Daily News in Maine reports that “Musharraf’s exit poses challenges” and the Chicago Tribune observes that “Musharraf leaves a nation at crossroads.” The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif., leads with “U.S. faces quandary in Pakistan,” and the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch notes with photo and story that “Musharraf departs, but problems remain.”

Other dailies played it straight, such as The Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune squaring off “Musharraf resigns,” the South Bend Tribune in Indiana leading with “Musharraf announces resignation,” The Arizona Republic in Phoenix reporting at the top of the page “Pakistan’s Musharraf resigns,” and the lead headline in The Philadelphia Inquirer — “Pakistan leader, a key ally, resigns.” We’ll look for the stories about the Pakistan problems later.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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August 18, 2008

Asian newspapers play up
Olympics with photos, stories

By Gene Mater

Do Asian newspapers care about those Olympic Games in China? Yes, indeed, and not just in China.

The Borneo Bulletin in Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalem (which is a mouthful for a place name), has a Page One photo of swimming champion Michael Phelps and a story reporting “8 out of 8 – Phelps’ phenomenal feat.” The off-lead story in The Telegraph in Calcutta, India, also is about Phelps and here he is the “Eighth wonder of the water world,” while DNA in Mumbai, India, has Phelps’ “Lucky 8” plus a story asking about “False start in sprint?” Anandabara Patrika in Calcutta, India, offers a photo of the American hero in the water.

The Jakarta Post in Indonesia leads with the local win in badminton, Asahi Shimbun in Tokyo has Olympics photos, while the English edition of the Asahi Shimbun figures its readers get sports news elsewhere and ignores the Olympics on Page One.

Stars and Stripes’ Pacific edition, published in Tokyo, devotes much of the front page to the Olympics, the Star in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, has a photo of a local badminton star who won a silver medal with a caption about “So near yet so far,” while The Sun in the same city whoops up “King Phelps” and his wins. All the Seoul dailies on our Web site have front-page Olympics stories.

As for China itself and Hong Kong, much of Page One of The Beijing News is about Phelps. Oriental Morning Post in Shanghai plays up a Chinese gold medal winner, The Wall Street Journal Asia in Hong Kong tells the business community and others that “Phelps seeks gold out of the water,” while the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong makes East and West happy winners with a banner head reporting “Double happiness as history made,” noting “8 Phelps sets record for most golds won by an athlete at a single Games” and “8 China secures biggest single-day gold medals haul, taking tally to a record.”

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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August 15, 2008

A thousand words, and then some more

By Bridget Gutierrez

Imagine how boring your hometown newspaper would look if it were filled only with text. It’s the photographs that add life to those black-and-white pages.

This week, the Olympics in Beijing have been a visual smorgasbord for photojournalists and a bonanza for newspaper editors looking to liven Page One.

Today, the Los Angeles Times and The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee both carry whimsical staff photographs of newly minted gold-medalist Nastia Liukin on the front page. The Times captures the American gymnast in a mid-air split, while the Bee catches her in the midst of a back-flip.

How does she do that?

Other newspapers found fanciful photos closer to home. Photojournalists at The Register-Guard in Eugene, Ore., The Seattle Times in Washington and The Columbian in Vancouver, Wash., turned their lenses to the region’s summer heat wave with pictures of, respectively: a 5-year-old fairgoer dousing his head with a cup of cold water; a goggle-eyed swimmer happy to be underwater at the local pool; and a disgruntled toddler who just can’t keep her popsicle from melting.

Can you feel the heat?

Down in Miami, it’s not heat but the return of school that’s bringing the blues. As The Miami Herald shows, those vaccination shots sure do hurt — for both mother and daughter. In Melbourne, Florida Today goes after another fear: alligators. It’s safe to say that picture is as close as you should get to those toothy beasts.

Drama ruled the day in Colorado, where a Fort Collins Coloradoan photograph of a menacing storm looked like a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.” But it was the quiet poignancy of a Haitian pastor facing deportation, as depicted in Connecticut’s Republican-American, that really lent credence to the saying: Pictures are worth a thousand words.

Sometimes more.

Bridget Gutierrez is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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August 14, 2008

Athletes on Global Stage,
Local Front Pages

By Hicks Wogan

The Olympics are maintaining a presence on front pages the world over, but for some newspapers the Summer Games in Beijing are a local news story.

The biggest story thus far has been American swimmer Michael Phelps, but with Phelps not racing on Wednesday, what were newspapers to do? Some chose to stand by their man anyway, especially those in his hometown of Baltimore. There, The Examiner doesn’t have a front-page article but notes that “Phelps earns a rest” while teasing readers to pages 6 and 7. Meanwhile, The Sun is running an article about the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, where Phelps, along with female swimmer Katie Hoff, trained. The Sun calls Baltimore the current “cradle of American swimming.”

On the other side of the globe, down under the equator, Australians love their swimmers, too. Stephanie Rice, a native of Brisbane, won the 200-meter individual medley for her second gold medal of the Games. Her hometown paper, The Courier-Mail, heralds her success today with a full-page photo and a headline that notes Rice is “Twice as Nice.”

American beach-volleyball duo Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor have won so much in recent years — their undefeated streak stands at 104 matches, including their latest win over a pair of Norwegians — that it’s hardly news anymore. Both women grew up on California’s Pacific Coast, but most local front pages passed on them. An exception: the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, which is very near May-Treanor’s home community of Costa Mesa and which uses a front-page corner to refer readers to the sports section.

Also yesterday was the men’s all-around gymnastics championship, where American Jonathan Horton finished ninth. The Houston Chronicle shows “Jonathan Horton of Houston” competing on the pommel horse. Taking the gold was China’s Yang Wei. He lives in Beijing, but The Beijing News still seems to be celebrating, with six front-page photos, the Chinese women’s team victory from the night before last.

In Iowa, papers are looking not to the past, but the future. The Gazette in Cedar Rapids previews the women’s all-around gymnastics final, slated to air tonight on NBC. Iowan Shawn Johnson, whom The Gazette refers to as “Shawn Johnson of West Des Moines,” is headlining both the event final and the front page. The Times-Republican in Marshalltown, Iowa, has a big photo of the petite Johnson and a story on poll results that show 55 percent of Americans approve of China’s hosting the Games this year, despite the country’s human-rights issues.

And many newspapers, it seems, approve of the Olympics’ stories.

Hicks Wogan is a staff assistant at the Newseum.

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August 13, 2008

Phelps collects more gold;
ceasefire promised in Georgia

By Kate Kennedy

Battles in Asia and Europe continued to monopolize front-page photos and stories.

From Europe came news of a brokered Russia-Georgia truce even as fighting and troop movement continued. The Guardian of London illustrated the tone of the ceasefire in its headline: “Surrender, or else, Russia tells Georgia.”

From Asia came news of swimmer Michael Phelps’ continued battle for a record eight gold medals in one Olympics. “More records fall in Phelps’ wake,” The Boston Globe said over a stand-alone photo of Phelps, who won his fourth and fifth gold medals in Beijing — his 10th and 11th career gold medals.

The Kansas City (Mo.) Star was among U.S. newspapers that included both Georgia fighting and the Olympics on their front pages. “Cease-fire message: Russia is boss again,” the Star Tribune of Minneapolis said in an off-lead. Its centerpiece: “Phelps has most golds ever; U.S. gymnasts capture silver.” The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., labeled its Olympic centerpiece “The Unstoppable Mr. Phelps” and said lower on the page, “Russia agrees to halt military action in Georgia.”

In a sign of the significance of the Russia-Georgia story, the Los Angeles Times published three related stories on its front page, including: “U.S. experts say Russia’s goal in the Georgia battle has been to lay claim to a sphere of influence.” Said the Chicago Tribune: “Russia-Georgia clash leaves lasting damage.” The New York Times reported a cyberwar against Georgia that coincided with the Russian assault on the former Soviet country.

Three journalists have been reported killed covering the fighting. In the Netherlands, DAG in Amsterdam and AD in Rotterdam pictured Stan Storimans, an RTL television cameraman, who was reportedly killed in the bombing.

The Toronto Star called Beijing “The Olympics of Illusion” after accusations of lip-synching and fake fireworks marred what was considered a fantastic opening ceremony. In this age of fake, the Chicago Tribune had its culture critic survey the reaction to the lip-synching of the unofficial Chinese anthem by a girl “prettier” than the singer: “Oh well, whatever, never mind.”

With world records being smashed, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel looked at the new Speedo suit and asked: “Is it the swimmer or suit?” Dave Barry suggested on The Miami Herald’s front page that the solution to the U.S.-China medal rivalry might be beer pong: “We would KILL China in beer pong.” And from South Africa, The Times pictured a beach volleyball player “Kicking butt.” “Yes, it is a sport,” The Times noted about beach volleyball.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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August 12, 2008

Russian invasion of Georgia
continues to dominate coverage

By Gene Mater

Russia’s invasion of the democratically inclined former Soviet republic, now the independent country of Georgia, continues to dominate the news. This is not the first time Russia has used force to end democratization. Indeed, 40 years ago this month, on August 20, 1968, tanks of the Soviet Union and some of its Warsaw Pact allies crushed Czechoslovakia’s 200-day effort to democratize communism, to offer “socialism with a human face.” The Prague Spring was over.

Although early morning news reports today state that Russia is halting military action, it isn’t clear whether Russian troops will withdraw. After all, those troops have been told to “destroy” any “hotbeds of resistance or any aggressive actions.” Those reports didn’t make the morning newspapers, and we thought we would focus on European coverage.

Der Standard in Vienna, Austria, leads with “Open controversy between USA and Russia” about the fighting while featuring a photo of the Georgian president being protected when a Russian military helicopter appeared over the capital — a photo that several newspapers used. De Morgen in Brussels, Belgium, tops Page One with a photo of Russian soldiers in Georgia, and the European edition of The Wall Street Journal, published in Brussels, leads with a three-column headline reporting “As Russia pushes deeper, Georgia appeals for help.”

Dnevnik Daily in Sofia, Bulgaria, has a large war photo at the bottom of the page, while Lidove Noviny in Prague, Czech Republic, has its war story and the photo of the Georgian president being protected. Three other Prague dailies — Mlada Fronta Dnes, Denik and Hospodarske Noviny — also give Page One play to the fighting.

Aripaev in Tallinn, Estonia, has a big Page One picture of the Russian leaders to top their coverage, and the situation gets major play in La Tribune in Paris. Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin reports on “Russian troops near Georgia’s capital," To Vima in Athens has an army action shot anchoring the front page, La Stampa in Torino, Italy, banners “The Russians smash in,” while AD in Rotterdam, Netherlands, devotes most of the front page to war coverage, with photo and story.

In Poland, Dziennik Polski in Krakow and Dziennik Lodzi in Lodz play up the fighting. Jurnal Aradean in Arad, Romania, has a protest photo with someone carrying a poster reading, in English, “Stop the war in Georgia,” which seems appropriate since Romania did not participate in the Czechoslovak invasion mentioned earlier. Moskovskaya Pravda in Moscow plays up the war, but we can’t read Cyrillic, which is probably just as well. Danas in Belgrade, Serbia, leads with the war and uses the Georgian president photo.

Finally, The Guardian in London banners “Russians march into Georgia,” which sounds like a take-off of the U.S. Civil War song “Marching through Georgia,” the state, not the country.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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August 11, 2008

Russian invasion of little Georgia
is news here, there and everywhere

By Gene Mater

An undeclared war that will have no winners is Page One news here, there and almost everywhere. Pro-western President Saakashvili of Georgia said he was going to regain control of the tiny separatist region of South Ossetia, where many, if not most, of the people carry Russian passports. Do that and it will mean war, Russia warned. Georgia moved and so did Russia. Georgia, about the size of West Virginia with almost three times the population, is at war. The million-man-plus Russian army moved against the 37,000-man Georgian army. Russia seems to have lost the public- and international-relations battle; Saakashvili may lose his job as part of the price of peace. And another would-be separatist enclave in Georgia, Abkhazia, is in the mix.

We find that The Birmingham (Ala.) News reports, “Russia bares teeth in Georgia as blitz expands on land, sea.” The Arizona Republic in Phoenix squares off “Russia turns up heat on Georgia,” and the Arkansas Democrat Gazette in Little Rock leads with “Russia advances into Georgia,” while the Daily News in Los Angeles tops the page with “Thousands fleeing Georgia.” The Iowa City Press-Citizen in Iowa reports “Bush: Violence unacceptable” as he raps Russia, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in upstate New York says, “Russia expands military action.” The Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota reports, “Russia expands fight in Georgia,” the San Antonio Express-News in Texas notes that “Russia ignores pleas for cease-fire” and The Columbian in Vancouver, Wash., tells its readers that “Russia escalates blitz in Georgia.” And that’s the way it goes.

In Europe, closer to the action, Die Presse in Vienna, Austria, squares off at the top of Page One “Chain reaction in the Caucasus,” the Suddeutsche Zeitung in Munich, Germany, plays up “Russia bombs Georgia,” and Trouw in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, uses a similar headline. The story gets heavy Page One play in Lidove Noviny in Prague, Czech Republic, in De Morgen, Brussels, Belgium, in Corriere della Sera, in Milan, Italy, in Nepszabadsag in Budapest, Hungary, in Gazeta Wyborcza in Warsaw, Poland, in Dagens Nyheter in Stockholm, Sweden, in Jurnal de Caras-Severin in Resita, Romania, and in El Mundo, in Madrid, Spain. The Daily Telegraph in London puts a more frightening headline on its top story: “Thousands flee as Russia ‘starts ethnic cleansing.’”

It’s a story that will be with us for a while, taking some of the glint off the Olympics coverage.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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August 8, 2008

It’s show time for China,
Beijing — and front pages

By Kate Kennedy

“Let the games begin!” The Bakersfield Californian pronounced.

“Our Olympic Dawn” appeared in a photo illustration on the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. From Jakarta to Brussels to Johannesburg, images and stories in advance of today’s opening ceremony made front-page news.

“First day,” The Miami Herald said, adding: “The Olympic Games begin today, and Beijing is hoping they will stay free of pollution, protests and drugs.”

All eyes are on China, host of the Summer Games. USA Today reported on an East-West rivalry for gold, and The Denver Post said: “China will be flexing muscle of its emerging Olympic sports power.” Said The Boston Globe: “China, embracing both tradition and change, is looking for victory.”

Beyond athletics, front pages are reporting on Beijing, the capital city, and Chinese culture. “Old parts of Beijing — dirt, not dignitaries/20 minutes and a million miles from Olympic glory,” the San Francisco Chronicle said about a Beijing neighborhood. The Cincinnati Enquirer is following the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra as it plays two concerts at the games.

The Forum of Fargo, N.D., produced a magazine-style at-a-glance of the games. Some front pages referred to TV coverage. The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., broke out helpful information and said: “Viewers, get your remotes ready.” The Californian tried to prevent confusion by charting the time difference between Bakersfield and Beijing.

The Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, Denver Post and others include Olympics special sections in today’s newspaper. Other newspapers offer extensive coverage inside, including The Indianapolis Star with its full-page viewer’s guide.

Another history-making story took over front pages in Detroit, where the mayor spent last night in jail after violating the terms of his bond. “Jailed mayor set to face new felony,” said the Free Press, noting Kwame Kilpatrick is the first mayor in the city’s history to spend a night behind bars. Both Detroit newspapers printed columns on their front pages. “Cuffing, escorting mayor to jail a sad duty,” the Free Press said. From The News: “A Tragic Day for Detroit.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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August 7, 2008

Reports dig into case
against anthrax scientist

By Kate Kennedy

Reporting is about answering questions, but the country’s largest newspapers said today that questions lingered in the case against a government scientist accused in the 2001 anthrax attacks.

“Officials Detail Evidence, but Questions Linger,” The Washington Post said in its lead story. USA Today devoted its cover story to the accusations against Bruce Ivins, who committed suicide: “Questions linger as feds say Ivins was lone killer.” The New York Times reported: FBI “Cites Signs of Bizarre Behavior; Skeptics Remain.”

The Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D., noted that anthrax had been mailed to the office of its U.S. senator, exposing employees. “Sioux Falls native, victim wants briefing on investigation,” the Argus said. Anthrax also was mailed to Florida, where The Palm Beach Post used as its headline: “Scientist mailed anthrax, feds say.”

In a sidebar, The Washington Post said: “Acquaintances and Counselor Recall the Scientist’s Dark Side.” Details about the scientist’s unusual behavior and circumstantial evidence gave a sensational tone to the story. The Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald labeled its package “Delusional and deadly.” From the ever-flamboyant New York Post: “Dr. Doom’s descent into madness.”

The number eight was drawn on the San Francisco Chronicle to illustrate tomorrow’s lucky day: “Lucky 8/8/08 — believers to wed on auspicious day.” In nearby San Jose, the Mercury News used Olympic rings to form “8 8 8” for a package on the Olympics and the “Power of 8”: “Asia’s lucky number has inspired China to start the Games at 8:08 p.m., 8/8/08.”

But there was no luck for Favre fans in Wisconsin, as the Packers traded star quarterback Brett Favre to the New York Jets. “Jets Get Brett,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said. A sad day in Green Bay was greeted by a black front page, as the Press-Gazette used a black background to set off a photo of the longtime Packer and a single story. In Packer green, The Reporter in Fond du Lac said: “He’s gone.” The Hattiesburg American pictured Favre as he returned to his Mississippi hometown. From Favre’s new workplace, metro New York, the Daily News declared: “Gang Green trades draft pick for QB legend.”

Serving a military community, The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash., often reports on the war on terror. Today, the “War on Chafing” appears on its front page, as a local mail carrier “vows to push for kilts as Postal Service uniforms.” The News Tribune pictured the postman who “thinks outside of inseams.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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August 6, 2008

A stream of water woes
makes Page One news

By John Maynard

Water, water everywhere … including today’s front-page headlines.

Earth’s most precious resource gets the spotlight from all angles. “The second coming of desalination?” headlines a Santa Barbara (Calif.) News-Press story about the reopening of a facility that treats saltwater during droughts. More water-shortage news can be found in The News and Advance (Lynchburg, Va.), which writes, “City taps James River for water.” The Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, S.C.) goes with the headline, “Cutbacks, restrictions help curb water usage.”

Don’t mention water shortages to anyone in Texas, where residents have been hit by Tropical Storm Edouard. “A Good Soaker” is how the San Antonio Express-News succinctly sums up its weather woes.

Water cleanliness is the topic in Rochester, N.Y. “Beach lovers don’t let water issues cloud fun,” headlines a Democrat and Chronicle story about how locals are finding alternatives to swimming in algae-infested waters.

During the summer, it’s required by law that newspapers run at least one picture of an adorable child frolicking in water. The Sentinel-Record (Hot Springs, Ark.) fulfills its obligation with a shot of a 3-year-old boy in Lake Hamilton. The headline: “Splish, splash.” Awww.

Tuesday was primary day in some parts of the country, including Missouri, Kansas, Georgia and Michigan. One of the more watched races was in Detroit, where Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Mich., was running in a three-way Democratic primary. “Rep. Kilpatrick claims victory in tight race,” reads the bold headline in The Detroit News, which noted that the primary was “as much about her scandal-plagued son, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, as her own six terms in Congress.”

Meanwhile, The Hutchinson (Kan.) News devotes its entire front page to results from its county commission primary with massive head shots of the winners that would make even the most bigheaded politician blush.

John Maynard is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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August 5, 2008

Weather is Page One news
again in some parts of U.S.

By Gene Mater

With apologies to Oscar Wilde, who claimed that “Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative,” we have weather today — in Illinois, Texas and Louisiana.

Two front pages play up Illinois storms. The Daily Herald in suburban Chicago offers a big photo of a lightning strike — one might call it a striking picture but we won’t — and a report that “Storms rake area.” The Daily Chronicle in DeKalb leads with “County hit by powerful wind storm.”

In Texas, some coastal areas are bracing for Tropical Storm Edouard and that made Page One across the state. The Amarillo Globe-News reports “Texas coast braces for Edouard,” the Austin American-Statesman warns “Edouard deluge on way,” The Beaumont Enterprise says “Edouard inbound,” and the Corpus Christi Caller Times explains in its lead headline “Storm builds, should arrive this morning.” The Galveston County Daily News tells us “Edouard churns,” the Houston Chronicle leads with “Texas coast boards up as Edouard bears down,” and the Victoria Advocate squares off at the top of Page One “Local hospitals ready for storms.” That’s just a sampling but the message is clear.

Meanwhile, in Louisiana, The Advocate in Baton Rouge warns in a five-column headline “Edouard could hit today,” The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette banners “Coast preps for storm,” and The Times in Shreveport uses much of the front page to warn “Edouard set to make landfall.” The Times-Picayune in New Orleans has a box above the nameplate reporting “Texas and LA. coasts brace for Edouard,” with details inside. The Town Talk in Alexandria uses a different approach, with a story about “Edouard on minds of World Series teams from coastal areas.”

We confess that we didn’t read any of the stories, ever mindful of Mark Twain’s unproven claim that “Weather is a literary specialty, and no untrained hand can turn out a good article on it.”

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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August 4, 2008

A big day for local news
for many U.S. newspapers

By Gene Mater

All news is local, especially on a Monday morning. We have an upcoming presidential election, the Olympics soon will start and the Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn died yesterday. But for many U.S. dailies, it’s a local story — feature or news — that makes a big Page One splash today.

For The Arizona Republic in Phoenix it’s “Stealing steel,” with pictures, about how thieves are going for storm grates and manhole covers. For the Opelika-Auburn News in Alabama, the big Page One feature is about “Barbers share time, talent” to give free haircuts, while the Oakland Tribune in California leads with “Berkeley arts center seeks cash.”

The two dailies in Denver — the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post — lead with a house fire killing three. The Hartford Courant in Connecticut leads with Solzhenitsyn but the big play is about a 12-year-old battling for college admission with “Brains beyond his years.” The Miami Herald leads with its investigation of how “Clinics make mint on fake HIV treatment,” and the Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus, Ga., gives over more than half of its front page to the national economic downturn and rising local unemployment with a banner headline reporting “Hope amid anxiety.”

For the South Bend Tribune in Indiana, major play, with three photos, is about an area mayor who managed to lose 80 pounds, while the Sioux City Journal in Iowa warns its readers that “It will be another hot one today” but not as bad as Sunday. American Press in Lake Charles, La., also plays up the weather, with a banner sure to attract attention: “SW La. on hurricane watch,” even as The Boston Globe squares off “A grim forecast for heating costs.”

The Mississippi Press in Pascagoula squares off the killing of a former police chief, while the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y., gives over Page One to a local hero, about “State trooper’s actions during floods become legend.” The Las Vegas Review-Journal plays up an election story, but this is about Regular Joe making a run for the state Senate. Our friends at The Monitor in McAllen, Texas, have many local stories with the biggest play given to “More people are getting health care — but is the program legal?”

The prize goes to The State in Columbia, S.C., with a headline that tops and includes the nameplate, telling all that “If it sold stock, USC football would be the state’s 19th-largest publicly traded company.”

But when we get home, we’re going to drink a toast on this 273rd anniversary of the first major, successful free-press trial verdict in this country. Here’s to John Peter Zenger!

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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August 1, 2008

In health news, promises
of an antidote to exercise

By Kate Kennedy

What better than a lazy summer day to consider exercise in a pill?

“Rejoice, couch potatoes! It’s exercise in a pill,” announced The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.

The news that mice given an experimental drug turned into marathoners originated with researchers in California, and The San Diego Union-Tribune devoted its centerpiece to “Endurance lift without lifting.” The Oregonian of Portland pictured a mouse and said: “Fat-burning drug works on mice, but could it fight obesity?”

Other headlines also focused on humans. “Just too lazy to work out? Then this pill is made for you,” The Providence (R.I.) Journal said.

It’s a week to the Summer Games in Beijing, and many large newspapers have begun their countdown. “Politics muscle in on Olympics,” The Detroit News said in a historical look at the games. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that grammar police are out in force in China, cracking down on Chinglish, the mistranslation of English on street signs and T-shirts.

Today is the one-year anniversary of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse in Minnesota. The Star Tribune of Minneapolis published an anniversary pullout section, and the St. Paul Pioneer Press used “recovery” as an art headline. Newspapers across the country have run stories this week examining the state of infrastructure. In a package with photos and references to online content, The Forum in neighboring Fargo, N.D., said: “Funding crisis disrupts need to monitor or repair bridges.”

The Twin Cities newspapers also did extensive coverage of a corporate plane crash Thursday that killed eight. “Death in a cornfield,” the Pioneer Press said.

News organizations this morning are following a report by the Los Angeles Times that a top government scientist, who was about to be charged in the 2001 anthrax attacks, has died of an apparent suicide. The story led today’s Times.

And on a day when many focused on “race card” accusations in the presidential race, the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle gave us good ol’ mom. When it comes to the campaign messages of Obama and McCain, “Mom’s the word,” the newspaper said.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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July 31, 2008

When it comes to the front page,
food stories get a piece of the pie

By John Maynard

Front-page editors across the country must have skipped lunch yesterday, judging from the many mouth-watering lead stories that appear in today’s newspapers.

“Pie Champ” in today’s Carroll County Times (Westminster, Md.) headlines a story about a 10-year-old boy whose blueberry-peach pie won the top prize at a local 4H fair. Blueberries get more love from the Connecticut Post, which features a picture of an adorable 3-year-old girl scarfing them down at a local farm (before paying for them, we might add — tsk tsk).

In other fair-related food-contest news, the headline in The Vindicator (Youngstown, Ohio) blares “Victory is Sweet” for a story about the winner of an ice cream-eating contest. (No word on the inevitable ice cream headache that surely followed.)

The Wisconsin State Journal leads with “Tasty Research at ‘Candy Camp,’” which details candy-industry professionals’ annual trip to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study the art and science behind candy making. Nice work if you can get it.

Moving on to seafood, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale) goes with the headline “Snapping Them Up” for an article about the beginning of lobster season in Florida. This story, though, is tinged with tragedy by the death of two lobster trappers.

Way up north, the Portland (Maine) Press-Herald leads with “Lobster is plentiful, but diners aren’t,” which reports that the high price of the crustacean is keeping people from strapping on the lobster bibs.

You’ll need to wash down all this delicious food somehow, right? Too bad some of us missed “Mug Root Beer Float Day” at the Oakland A’s game, chronicled in the Oakland Tribune with the clever headline, “Root, Root, Root Beer for the Home Team.”

John Maynard is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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July 30, 2008

Alaskan’s indictment,
Alzheimer’s drug top news

By Patty Rhule

From Alaska to Hawaii to Florida, the indictment of the longest-serving Republican U.S. senator was front-page news.

Senators don’t get indicted every day; The Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal offered an Associated Press sidebar listing other senators who have suffered the same fate as Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.

The Anchorage Daily News dedicated its entire front page to the story, with pieces on “What it means for the Senate race” and “An Alaska Icon” with our favorite subhead, “Whether pork or gravy, he brought billions of dollars to Alaska.”

Stevens faces re-election in November, and USA Today doesn’t go very far out on a limb with its headline “Senator’s indictment may hurt GOP.”

“Friend’s gifts could be Stevens’ downfall,” explained The Seattle Times.

The Honolulu Advertiser offered a local angle on how the indictment could affect Hawaii’s Sen. Daniel Inouye with “Indictment of Senate ally won’t kill Inouye’s clout.”

Back in the continental United States, a reader of New York’s Hoy need not understand Spanish to know that “Alarma” is not good news atop a photo of a sober New York Gov. David Paterson, detailing the state’s budget crisis.

A potential breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease topped the news in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which used an Associated Press graphic to show how the disease attacks nerve cells.

A historic moment in Congress got lead-story treatment in Memphis, Tenn.’s Commercial Appeal with “Slavery apology clears House.”

Packaging the news in a way that intrigues the time-pressed reader is an art and The Examiner — Baltimore wins today’s award with a photo of a rosary hanging from a mailbox, with an inset of a laughing family of four and the headline “Shrink says family was DEEPLY DISTURBED.”

A close runner-up was the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle in Cheyenne, with a photo of a computer keyboard and the headline “The toilet is probably cleaner than your keyboard.”

Patty Rhule is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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July 29, 2008

What does half-a-trillion dollars
really mean to you and yours?

By Gene Mater

How much is half- a-trillion dollars? That’s what many dailies are telling their readers about where the U.S. budget deficit is headed. We were hoping that at least one newspaper would tell us that “if you stacked half a trillion dollar bills (or put them end to end, they would stretch from here to there,” or “every man, woman and child in the country will be in hock XXX dollars next year.” The story is there but not the “what it all means.”

The Birmingham News in Alabama leads with a simple “U.S. deficit estimated to pass half-trillion,” the Dispatch in Casa Grande, Ariz., hits its readers with the head “Further in the red” by putting RED in second-coming type size caps and in red ink, while the Arkansas Democrat Gazette in Little Rock leads with a sedate “Deficit forecast hits $482 billion.” The Herald in Monterey, Calif., tacks it on the administration with the lead head “Bush to leave office with record deficit,” The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colo., spreads the story across the top of Page One with a story proclaiming that “Federal deficit will hit a record $482 billion” plus a graph showing surplus and deficit years” while The Day in New London, Conn., does something similar with “Deficit nears half-trillion dollars” plus that same graph. The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., looks ahead with “Record deficit to greet next President,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution makes it sound awful with the head at the bottom of the page about “’09 budget deficit is record, and it could get even worse,” and The Lewiston Tribune out in Idaho, leads with “U.S. deficit approaches half-trillion.” It’s the off-lead story in the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, Ill., with a simple “Budget deficit growing,” The Detroit News offers a bottom-of-the-page “U.S. deficit expected to hit record $482B in 2009,” while the St. Joseph News-Press in Missouri tells its readers in its off-lead that “Record budget deficit looms.” The Lincoln Journal Star in Nebraska whoops it up with “U.S. deficit skyrockets,” the Billings Gazette in Montana says the deficit is “zooming” and The Post-Standard in Syracuse, N.Y., says the next president faces “sobering” reality.

Then we looked at The Forum out in Fargo, N.D., and smiled. That deficit is worth 482 billion cheeseburgers, or 135 billion gallons of gasoline, amounts to $1,581.79 per U.S. resident — and more. Thank you, Forum folks, the deficit story also is worth today’s blue ribbon or gold star, your choice.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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July 28, 2008

A lesson in filling Page One

By Bridget Gutierrez

Monday is always a tough day to fill the front page, particularly when there’s no breaking news to report. One trick editors sometimes use is the centerpiece, a grouping of articles, photographs and graphics usually (but not always) put in the center of the page.

Because the centerpiece visually dominates Page One, editors often use the technique to highlight special projects or interesting features. Today, in San Luis Obispo, Calif., The Tribune couples two articles and two photographs into “An old seadog’s new tricks,” the second installment of a three-day series on how local fishermen are trying to survive in a dying industry. Similarly, Nevada’s Reno Gazette-Journal pairs stories and photographs in an examination of the cases of two girls who went missing three decades apart.

“A mother, a boxer, now a headliner,” practically jumps off the front page of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in New York. A thick black line boxes in the article and photographs about a determined mother who will make sports history this week as headliner in the city’s first major female boxing bout.

Graphics often are a central part of centerpieces. The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune’s take on scattered summertime showers packages maps, numbers, pictures and very little copy in a hold-to-the-front piece. Likewise, the Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus, Ga., keeps it short in an update on local construction projects. But “So, when will that be done?” follows a more traditional format of mixing photographs and text.

Front-page designers at The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., cleverly graft a series of numbers and meeting information onto a centerpiece photo to go with a story about how local Hispanics are faring in the tough economy. Readers perusing centerpiece graphics in Nebraska’s Lincoln Journal Star learn motorcycle owners are getting older but not necessarily wiser when it comes to safety. And Florida Today in Melbourne colorfully and creatively displays where all the money goes from those popular animal-themed license plates.

When all other news fails to make the centerpiece cut, editors go for the stand-alone photograph. After all, what reader could resist the graceful Olympian (Houston Chronicle), a screaming Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen (The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.), or good ole Goose Gossage wiping a tear during his induction to the National Baseball Hall of Fame (The Gazette, Colorado Springs, Colo.)?

Emotion gets ‘em every time.

Bridget Gutierrez is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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July 25, 2008

477 miles, 7 days, 2 wheels
and one statewide story

By Kate Kennedy

NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa — The Des Moines Register is peddling its newspaper to tens of thousands who are pedaling across the Hawkeye State this week.

A special edition of the Register is being distributed free to participants in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. RAGBRAI lures bicyclists from far and near to ride more than 450 miles from west to east across Iowa.

The tour, the “longest, largest and oldest touring bicycle ride in the world,” is chronicled in detail by the Register, the sponsor, and other Iowa newspapers.

Twenty-eight Register staffers — including editorial cartoonist Brian Duffy — have been involved in RAGBRAI coverage this week, said Carolyn Washburn, editor. The daily special edition, offered to bikers staying in campgrounds and inserted into single-copy papers, includes maps, photos and details about the eight communities that serve as stops along the route. Several pages of coverage are being included in the regular newspaper.

“This and the state fair are two enormous, charming community gatherings that involve the whole state in the summer,” Washburn said.

From western Iowa, the Sioux City Journal on Tuesday wrote about where RAGBRAI is not – its county — the result of a lawsuit over a death in an earlier ride. From central Iowa, the Press-Citizen of Iowa City, which incorporated a bicyclist into its nameplate, has had front-page coverage each day. The Times-Republican in Marshalltown focused most of its coverage on Wednesday’s stop in its county, and today’s Gazette from Cedar Rapids looked at Thursday’s 76-mile stretch.

As riders reach eastern Iowa, the story is headed for the Quad-City Times in Davenport. One of the newspaper’s reporters will be riding with colleagues positioned at the start and end of the 53-mile last leg.

Other journalists also are getting into the story by riding along. At a time when war, economic troubles and other tensions are in the news, Washburn said, it’s especially important to say, “Let’s all have fun.”

Duffy, a biking enthusiast, is blogging from behind the handle bars, and the Register’s Web site includes other creative content — from a “shoutout” feature to an interactive quiz to historical pictures. An interactive map helps riders plan their route. Riders can post comments and photos.

Coverage of the tour, Washburn said, “highlights and validates and showcases those small communities across the state” that welcome riders. She said she believed that a newspaper should challenge and celebrate its community. “This is one of those moments you can unabashedly celebrate the community.”

A tour of his own: Barack Obama spoke to a crowd of approximately 200,000 people Thursday at a stop in Berlin. “In Berlin, a call to renew bonds,” the Chicago Tribune said. Proclaimed the Chicago Sun-Times: “Wunderbar!” A number of papers used a photo showing the presidential candidate before the large crowd, and Obama was on Page One across Germany. The Denver Post printed the photo the width of its page and compared Obama’s speech to other notable speeches given in Berlin.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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July 24, 2008

Barack Obama is news in Berlin
but not yet in all of Germany

By Gene Mater

Barack Obama in Berlin is a Berlin story but it’s not necessarily an all-German story, according to today’s front pages on our Web site. Perhaps tomorrow, but here’s what it looks like today.

In Berlin, Der Tagesspiegel gives over most of Page One to the visit, with a story proclaiming that “Berlin has high expectations of Obama” plus a commentary about the visit, while die tageszeitung fills Page One with a cartoon hero Obama as a sort of superman and the words “Come down!” and Die Welt is more sedate, referring to the meeting with the German chancellor in a story about her. In nearby Potsdam, the Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten has a top-of-the-page piece about the high expectations for Obama.

As for the rest of Germany, the Braunschweiger Zeitung in Braunschweig and the Wolfsburger Nachrichten in Wolfsburg — basically the same dailies with different nameplates — carry a story at the bottom of Page One about “A reception as for a pop star,” while the Neue Westfaelische in Bielefeld has large color photo of a smiling chancellor with a reference to the Lehar operetta “The Land of Smiles” and a caption noting her meeting today with Obama. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung in Munich has a story about “Tens of thousands want to experience Obama,” while the Suedwest Presse in Ulm and the Nuernberger Nachrichten in Nuremberg have shorter stories about the visit, even as the Financial Times Deutschland in Hamburg teases an inside piece about the meeting of Obama and the chancellor.

For the rest of our newspapers in Germany, the upcoming visit doesn’t rate front page coverage. Indeed, even the European edition of the newspaper for the American troops, Stars and Stripes, published in Griesheim, has nothing out front about the visit, playing up the 60th anniversary of the integration of the armed forces. The Fuldaer Zeitung in Fulda uses the top of Page One to play up a meeting in Denmark about Christmas to come — complete with a photo of a bunch of Santa Clauses and a banner in English proclaiming “Merry Christmas” while the Weser Kurier and the Bremer Nachrichten, both in Bremen, attract some attention with an unusual, big photo of six young storks standing up in their nest.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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July 23, 2008

Hello, Dolly!

By Hicks Wogan

Hurricane Dolly is strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico. A Category One storm as of yesterday, Dolly is expected to make landfall today near the Texas/Mexico border. In the process the storm is making front-page news.

Let’s take a virtual tour of the coastal region. You can follow along on the Newseum’s Front Pages map.

Dolly grips the attention of newspapers printed in its path. In Brownsville, Texas, the bad news is bilingual. The Brownsville Herald gives Dolly its entire front page, including three articles and an editor’s note announcing the closure of the paper’s offices. Also using the whole front page: the city’s Spanish-language El Nuevo Heraldo and, just across the border, Expreso de Matamoros.

With winds of 85 miles per hour and potential rainfall of 15 inches, the storm threatens to burst levees in the densely populated Rio Grande Valley. There, in McAllen, Texas, The Monitor warns that Dolly is “Bearing Down” and the front page lays out a timeline for landfall.

To the south and probably out of harm’s way, Expreso in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, notes that Dolly has its eye on Matamoros. And north along the Texas coast the Victoria Advocate beseeches “Stay Away, Dolly.” The San Antonio Express-News warns that this hurricane is “Not to be taken lightly”; however, the Houston Chronicle’s front page claims “South Texas ready as Dolly descends.” Finally, with one headline The Beaumont Enterprise sums up both the much-needed rainfall and the potential flooding as “A blessing, a curse.”

As we move out of the Lone Star state, coverage moves from front-and-center to the margins. In Lake Charles, La., the American Press has an article at bottom left. In Lafayette, La., The Daily Advertiser covers Dolly across the bottom of the front page. And although three years ago Hurricane Katrina broke levees and inundated New Orleans, The Times-Picayune only teases Dolly readers over to Page 2.

East out of Louisiana, even along the Gulf Coast, Dolly disappears. The storm is nowhere to be found on the front page of Biloxi’s Sun Herald, Pascagoula’s The Mississippi Press, or Fort Walton Beach’s Northwest Florida Daily News.

Hicks Wogan is a staff assistant at the Newseum.

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July 22, 2008

Obama is big news, but not the only news

By Emily Hedges

Barack Obama's overseas trip is making news from sea to shining sea. The Miami Herald International showed Obama shaking hands with the Iraqi prime minister. The Aurora (Colo.) Sentinel used the photo that the majority of newspapers used for the story — a photo of Obama in a helicopter with Gen. David Petraeus. The Christian Science Monitor (Boston) claimed that many Arabs did not even know who Obama was with the headline “Barack Who?”

Many international papers featured Obama on the front page as well. From Austria (Vienna’s Kurier) to Israel (Tel Aviv’s Maariv) to Uruguay (Montevideo’s El Pais), Obama was shown on front pages on several continents.

But Obama's trip is just one of the major stories on front pages today. Here are a few more:

  • U.S. Olympic team visits White House: As the 2008 U.S. Olympic team prepares for Beijing, it made a stop to visit President Bush yesterday. The Santa Barbara (Calif.) News-Press headlined the story "Olympic Dreams," while The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle profiled a local injured Iraq war veteran who qualified for the U.S. Paralympic team.

  • Salmonella — again, or still?: "Tainted jalapenos found," said the straightforward headline on the top of The San Diego Union-Tribune's front page. The Bradenton (Fla.) Herald marked tomatoes as "Safe" and called the "Unsafe" jalapeno a "Hot suspect."

  • Hot as an oven: The Huntsville (Ala.) Times used the succinct headline "102°” to describe the heat. The Memphis, Tenn., Commercial Appeal’s headline read, “Feel the Burn,” and the front page featured an almost-obligatory photo of a child playing in water outdoors.

Emily Hedges is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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July 21, 2008

There’s no overdoing coverage
of Barack Obama’s world tour

By Gene Mater

We read so much last week about the expected overkill in coverage of Barack Obama’s whirlwind, worldwide tour that we wondered whether the U.S. dailies would follow the lead of the broadcasters — all three television network anchors are on the trip. The simple answer is NO. Indeed, as we looked at today’s front pages we toyed with the idea of writing the assigned analysis with the lead, “The following dailies had nothing about Senator Obama on Page One,” and then listing a few hundred newspapers.

USA Today, the biggest newspaper, does have a Page One photo of the candidate with Afghanistan President Karzai and a story stating that “Obama makes high-stakes debut on foreign stage,” but The New York Times settles for a photo of “A candidate in Kabul” and a story on Page A14, and The Washington Post squares off a story claiming that “For ‘surge’ troops, pride mingles with doubt” and a boldface line about the Obama story on Page A4. That photo in USA Today was liked by many editors; it’s on Page One of The Birmingham News in Alabama with a story about “Iraqi leader’s comments stir tension,” on the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson with its story about “Obama to see Iraqi leader receptive to a timetable,” and as teases to stories inside The Boston Globe, the Daily News in Los Angeles, The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla., and the San Antonio Express-News in Texas.

Some dailies did play up the trip. The Chicago Sun-Times leads with “Obama in the war zone,” with a photo; The Lewiston (Idaho) Tribune squares off at the top of the page “Obama delegation hits Baghdad”; the Las Vegas Review-Journal wants you to know that “Obama urges troop increases” in Afghanistan; The Press in Atlantic City, N.J., leads with “Obama pledges support to Karzai”; the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has an off-lead report that “Obama stirs up a flap on war”; the Arkansas Democrat Gazette in Little Rock reports “Obama to Afghans: ‘We need urgency.’” The Christian Science Monitor from Boston leads with “Obama and McCain on Israel,” has that much-used photo but offers the Obama-Karzai story on Page 11.

At coffee break time, we’re going back to the Bangor Daily News up in Maine to read the Page One story about the bear being killed in a local neighborhood.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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July 18, 2008

A summer’s day at beach
… it’s all good news

By Kate Kennedy

It’s a Friday in July. Time to go to the beach.

“Summer in R.I.,” The Providence Journal declared in a package that included a photo of the first trip to the beach by 15-month-old twins Amelia and Jocelyn.

Boats powered the Press-Telegram of Long Beach, Calif., illustrating a list of weekend activities. And speaking of things to do, the Northwest Florida Daily News in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., put a little zip into its coverage with a photo and story about a new zip line and ropes course in one of its communities.

From South Carolina, “A side of rain” came with the Beaufort Water Festival, The Beaufort Gazette noted. The nearby Bluffton Today called the 53rd annual event “Waterfront dreamin’.”

Some rain also is in the forecast on the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, which might be why the newspaper was thinking indoor activities. It incorporated a flash of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight,” into its nameplate.

The Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal offered a different kind of forecast: “State’s financial forecast: bad and worse.”

Food made top headlines in The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, as the FDA lifted its warning about tomatoes and the newspaper recounted fishermen’s “agony at sea after eating tainted grouper.”

In New Jersey, the Asbury Park Press reported that a borough was shutting down some of its government offices on Fridays to save money — more time for the shore.

Men of peace … Editor Ray Hartley of The Times of Johannesburg, South Africa, calls today’s front page “one of the easiest front-page decisions we have ever made.” The Times used a full-page picture of Nelson Mandela to mark the 90th birthday of the Nobel Peace Prize winner. Hartley said in a blog that the photo of Mandela was the largest picture the national newspaper had ever used.

Pope Benedict XVI is in Australia for World Youth Day. “Shining His Light,” The Sydney Morning Herald said in a “Super Souvenir” front page. The Age of Melbourne highlighted the pope’s message to Australia: “‘Life is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful.’” Amen.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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July 17, 2008

For Page One, numbers count

By John Maynard

Numbers don’t lie but can they sell newspapers?

All sorts of numbers bounce off the front pages of today’s newspapers — big numbers, small numbers, odd numbers, even numbers and many with a dollar sign in front of them.

Several California papers lead with depressing new statistics that show a 25% dropout rate among high school students. “1 in 4 students in state drop out,” proclaims the banner headline of the San Jose Mercury News.

The Reading (Pa.) Eagle addresses dour economic news with the headline, “1-2 Punch for June: Prices up, wages fall.”

On a happier note, “60 Years, together” is the header of the lead story in the Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin profiling three couples celebrating their 60th wedding anniversaries.

Speaking of anniversaries, the front page of the Corvallis (Ore.) Gazette-Times notes that “Da Vinci Days turns 20 today” and the Kane County (Ill.) Chronicle declares, “Kane County kicks off 140th fair.”

As for dollar signs, The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., writes about “A $3 Million Firefight” in the region. The New Haven (Conn.) Register weighs in on a police scandal in nearby Madison. “Cop Scandal Tab: $337,000,” reads the banner headline.

A big “55” is the headline of The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune, which looks at the history of the national 55 mph speed limit and why, despite high gas prices, we’ll probably never go back to it.

And don’t be scared of the scary-looking villain with the painted face that adorns many front pages today. That’s the late actor Heath Ledger as The Joker in the new Batman movie opening tomorrow. Many papers use his image to tease their review of the movie, which the film industry hopes will draw, well, big numbers.

John Maynard is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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July 16, 2008

Reporting on the economy:
‘Gloom, doom from every angle’

By Kate Kennedy

“Bad news comes in waves for economy,” the Chicago Tribune said this morning. Those waves crashed over front pages around the world.

Somber comments about the U.S. economy from President Bush and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke propelled The Washington Post to use much of its front page to document “An Economy Thrown Into Turmoil.” The paper used charts and photos to break out “The Energy Puzzle,” “Bank Shares Tumble,” “Fannie, Freddie Falter” and “Dark Day at GM.”

Another Post — The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post — also devoted much of its page to an economic package: “Troubling signs across the board.”

Far from Washington but just as close to troubling economic news, The State Journal Register of Springfield, Ill., summed it up: “Gloom, doom from every angle.”

The New York Times pictured Bush as he “tried to reassure Americans.” The Los Angeles Times called it a “presidential pep talk” but noted that Bush’s words were at odds with higher prices and lower sales.

The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., bulleted Tuesday’s events and localized impact: “Del. vulnerable to economic fallout.” In Michigan, GM continued to make cuts. “Carmaker acts to restore confidence in its future,” The Detroit News said in a Page One business column.

Anywhere there are worried consumers and concerned investors — that’s everywhere — economic news was prominent. The Indianapolis Star said, “Inflation hits levels not seen since ‘80s.” The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., illustrated “A Souring Economy.” The Courier-Journal in Kentucky declared: “Economic doldrums drive nation’s gloom” with a local sidebar on Louisville banks. The Seattle Times quoted analysts: “Government can’t do much more to help.”

The Toronto Star said, “Economy takes a triple hit” – a reference to housing prices, inflation and GM cuts. The Wall Street Journal noted the widening impact of the failing U.S. economy. From Scotland to Australia to Colombia to Japan, money news was on Page One.

Those looking for an escape found 15 innings of relief in a four-hour and 50-minute All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium. The Los Angeles Times pictured “The Final Play at the Plate,” and the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press showed Twins catcher Joe Mauer being greeted by Yogi Berra. The American League won, 4-3, but The Tampa Tribune said Yankee Stadium was the star of the night. “In shadow of new park,” The Journal News of Westchester County, N.Y., reported, “landmark’s last All-Star game a gem.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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July 15, 2008

Bank failure still a big story
for Southern California dailies

By Gene Mater

We thought that we would check to see how the Southern California dailies were doing with the run on the bank that was the high or low point of yesterday’s financial story. The story — with photos of the crowds wanting to get their money out of the failed IndyMac Bank — is there for all to see and read.

The Los Angeles Times has a five-column picture of the queuing crowds and two Page One stories — “Banks hit by fallout from the crisis at IndyMac” and “Fed imposes new rules on lenders.” The competing Daily News reports “Run on IndyMac continues,” with what we used to call a button above that proclaiming, “We want our cash, worried account-holders say.” The Spanish-language La Opinion, also in Los Angeles, has a picture and heads teasing the inside coverage.

The Press-Telegram in Long Beach also has a picture and the headline, “Long lines and few answers.” The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario reports “Bank troubles” above its photo and “IndyMac customers rush to get money” below it. The San Diego Union-Tribune says that “Assurances don’t ease banking fears.”

The Daily Breeze in Torrance says it all with a top-of-the-page banner reporting “Depositors throng IndyMac,” the Ventura County Star in Ventura goes the same way with “Hundreds Flock to IndyMacs,” and the Santa Barbara News Press has a banner about “Angry customers pulling out of IndyMac,” dropping down to two stories. The Press-Enterprise in Riverside reports that “Banking jitters spread,” while The Orange County Register in Santa Ana plays it differently, offering “4 must-read stories you’ll find inside today’s paper”; the first one is “Bank clients fear for funds.”

We also thought it worth taking a look at how the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is handling the follow-up to the $52 billion takeover of the local Anheuser-Busch company by an international brewing concern. Much of Page One is devoted to follow-up stories, such as “Making Bud a global brand holds key” and “Brewery workers fear that leaner could be meaner.” We’ll drink to some of that.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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July 14, 2008

Mortgage banking problems
make Page 1 everywhere

By Gene Mater

You don’t have to live in New York or Washington and you don’t have to subscribe to The Wall Street Journal. Chances are that your hometown daily is reporting the financial mess that may affect us all as the federal government steps in to bolster troubled lending giants.

There it is, at the bottom of Page One of The Birmingham News in Alabama: “U.S. offers rescue plan for mortgages; Fed to lend funds,” or the lead story in the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska: “Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac bailed out” and at the bottom of The Arizona Republic in Phoenix: “Fed, Treasury boosting efforts to help Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac.”

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette in Little Rock leads with “U.S. plan offers billions to back mortgage titans,” The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif., squares off at the top of Page One “Mortgage giants get help,” while the Aurora Sentinel in Colorado has the familiar poster of Uncle Sam filling a good portion of Page One with the head, “Sam’s double trouble,” and a drop head reporting on the “lifeline” for mortgage debt.

The Hartford Courant in Connecticut leads with “Feds buttress Fannie, Freddie,” the Charlotte Sun in Charlotte, Fla., puts “US spells out Fannie-Freddie backstop plant,” while the Marietta Daily Journal in Georgia has photos of the two lending giants topped by the head, “Another rescue.” In Hawaii The Honolulu Advertiser leads with “Feds step in to aid mortgage giants,” the Idaho Statesman in Boise tops Page One with “Fannie, Freddie look to sell debt,” while the Times-Republican in Marshalltown, Iowa, settles for the headline, “Market trouble.”

The Advocate in Baton Rouge, La., reports “Mortgage crackdown likely today,” the Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine, leads with “Feds to act to ease crisis,” the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa.,, says “US spells out Fannie-Freddie backstop plan,” and the Rapid City Journal in South Dakota also reports that “backstop plan.” The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash., plays up “Treasury bails out loan giants.”

We may check out the story at the bottom of Page One of The News Tribune, the story with the head, “On second thought, put your clothes back on.”

And if we get a coffee break today to celebrate Bastille Day, we’re going to look up the Ogden Nash poem titled, “Bankers are just like everybody else, except richer,” which opens with, “This is a song to celebrate banks,” which seems appropriate reading if not singing.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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July 11, 2008

Grim news, powerful images

By Patty Rhule

Amid tough economic times, even the value of your life is eroding.

“Your life, worth less,” said The Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal, leading with a story on a new EPA valuation of the price that people — and employers — would pay to avoid certain risks. Many papers illustrated the EPA study with charts that spiraled downward.

The News-Press in Ft. Myers, Fla., offered some counterbalance to the story that has major policy implications with the sub-headline: “Some charge White House is cooking books.”

Small comfort, that. Let’s turn to the nation’s photojournalists to see the stories they tell in pictures today:

  • The St. Petersburg Times in Florida photographed an 18-year-old girl from the neck down, her arms and legs in braces after an attack that left her comatose. The photo illustrates her mother’s story, “My Soul is Broken.”

  • “Six Lucky Ducks Saved in Afternoon Rescue in Peoria” read the headline for a photo of ducklings in a trash-littered storm drain in the Journal Star.

  • “Child on the Mend” in Biloxi, Miss.’s Sun Herald depicted a 3-year-old girl with injuries from an attack by a pit bull, also pictured.

  • The Herald News in West Paterson, N.J., offered a vivid photo to illustrate the summertime fire-hydrant story with “Grief over relief / Open hydrants refresh kids, yet pose hazard.”

  • “He’ll Call ’Em, You Shoot ’Em” was the grabber headline for an image of a man who makes duck calls in South Carolina’s Bluffton Today.

  • “Hog Heaven” read the Culpeper (Va.) Star-Exponent headline over a photo of a boy giggling from a close encounter with his hog.

  • The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., chronicled continuing wildfires with a poignant photo of a man walking from his home, unable to find his blind and deaf dog, with the headline “Wildfire Chars Homes, Forces Evacuations.”

  • To see a big one that did not get away, check out the 348.2-pound halibut caught in Alaska, as seen in the Anchorage Daily News.

Patty Rhule is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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July 10, 2008

What’s behind national
headlines? Local stories

By Kate Kennedy

Some stories made national headlines today, but to communities and their newspapers, the stories were local.

Ramsey murder investigation: “DA: Ramseys didn’t do it,” the Rocky Mountain News proclaimed. The Denver Post showed excerpts of a letter to JonBenét Ramsey’s family from the Boulder district attorney, exonerating the child’s parents in her 1996 death.

Return to the Senate: The Boston Globe and the Cape Cod Times used photos of Edward Kennedy to share the news that the Massachusetts senator who is being treated for brain cancer made a surprise return to Capitol Hill to cast a vote for a Medicare bill.

California wildfires: The Herald in Monterey used three of its five front-page stories for fire news, leading with an emergency road closure and a mandatory evacuation. “10,000 Flee Fires,” The San Diego Union-Tribune reported, adding: “First wave of Guardsmen heads to front lines today.” The Bakersfield Californian incorporated a firefighting image into its nameplate and said: “Fires eluding containment.”

Northwest Airlines cuts: Fees and job cuts were Page One news in communities that serve as airline hubs. “NWA feels air pressure,” The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tenn., said. “Airline adds luggage, frequent-flier charges; 2,500 layoffs planned,” said the Pioneer Press in St. Paul, Minn. The Detroit News noted an ominous “Analysts warn airline may need to cut even deeper to offset soaring fuel costs.”

New Census data: Some cities found good news in the release of population figures for 2007. The Indianapolis Star offered bulleted highlights of “How we’re growing.” The Tennessean created a centerpiece package after Nashville was designated the 25th largest city.

Cleveland had the largest decline, and The Plain Dealer turned over much of its front page to the story, mapping and charting the loss for its area and the national stats.

Columbus, Ga., had the largest population loss among cities its size. That wasn’t mentioned on Page One of the Ledger-Enquirer. But to the east, The Augusta Chronicle seemed happy to note Columbus’s loss and reported: “Augusta’s population stands pat.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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July 9, 2008

Newspapers air global
pollution pact on Page One

By Kate Kennedy

News from the meeting of the Group of Eight made front-page headlines in many parts of the world today as leaders of major industrial democracies agreed to support a 50% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions.

“Halve emissions by 2050,” announced The Age of Melbourne, Australia. The agreement was front-page news in countries represented in the G-8, including Germany and Italy. The summit also made Page One in Japan, where world leaders met.

In continuing its strong coverage of the meeting, The Guardian of London examined instant criticism by developing countries, including China and India: “A deal on climate change — but then the backlash.”

The Toronto Star reported on the role of the Canadian prime minister in forging the agreement. The Globe and Mail of Toronto noted that U.S. participation in the agreement was a change in policy by the Bush administration. “George W. Bush’s carbon conversion,” the banner headline said. Its first-rate lead said, “Tackling climate change has never come easy to George W. Bush — Texas oil man, global warming skeptic and Kyoto killer.”

From South Korea to France, the G-8 was front-page worthy. But did it make Page One in the U.S., where newspapers tend to be more parochial in their story selections?

“Global leaders set pollution goal,” said The Arizona Republic in Phoenix. It was joined in carrying the news by front pages in the environmentally aware West and in large and regional U.S. newspapers.

Some looked at the shift in policy. “Climate pledge is shift for Bush,” The Sun of Baltimore said. “Pledge marks an evolution in the president’s position,” The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer said. Others looked at reaction. “Global deal on pollution is denounced,” The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press said. “Critics of the pact cite failure to set short-term goal,” The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk noted.

If you wonder about the importance of world leaders’ words, The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., reports on reaction after President Bush’s comments praising German asparagus at a state dinner in Europe last month. The folks in central Washington state got a little miffed. “Like asparagus? Shoot, try ours,” the paper said, noting that a box of the Washington-grown veggie was shipped to Bush for comparison. No word on how Bush liked the food at the G-8 summit.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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July 8, 2008

What’s news? Depends on where
you are, what you choose to read

By Gene Mater

We thought that this morning we would take a look at the dailies in the top six U.S. cities, according to population figures, to see what editors are telling their readers about the world around them.

The New York Times leads with “Bomber strikes Afghan capital; at least 41 die,” but there’s much more on Page One — stories about mortgage problems, about hostages still held in Colombia, about The Washington Post signaling a “shift” with the naming of a new editor, about veterans battling the bottle, and girls and clothes. For the Daily News, New York Post, AM New York and Metro, there is only one story worth whooping up — the divorce suit filed by the wife of Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez. For the Spanish-language Hoy, the big story is taxi drivers wanting compensation for the high price of gasoline, while The New York Sun leads with problems in the mayor’s office and The Wall Street Journal plays up “Mortgage giants take beating on fears over loan defaults” while also reporting the Pittsburgh Steelers may be up for sale.

Moving to Market 2, the Los Angeles Times leads with an area savings and loan to cut its work force in half, the Daily News squares off the possible opening of an area pool and the Spanish-language La Opinion plays up an alert about excessive heat, with photo.

In the third largest market, the Chicago Sun-Times gives over the front page to the funeral for a cop who died in the line of duty, a story also played up in the Chicago Tribune but below a top-of-the-page piece about “Transplant gap keeps blacks on waiting list.” Both pages have photos of the funeral.

For the Houston Chronicle, the big story is the press conference held by the three Americans recently freed from captivity at the hands of Colombian terrorists. In Philadelphia, Metro plays up “Iraq wants timetable for troop withdrawal,” while The Philadelphia Inquirer leads with the fight about where to locate casinos but the big photos go with “Afghanistan shaken by deadly bombing.” In Phoenix, the sixth market, The Arizona Republic leads with “Iraq seeks timeline for pullout.”

And there you have it. News depends on where you are and what you choose to read.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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July 7, 2008

Spain does it again, taking
another major sports victory

By Gene Mater

Spain did it again, and we want to be sure the world recognizes Spain's athletic prowess. Yesterday a Spanish tennis player won at Wimbledon in what The New York Times refers to in its Page One story as an "epic battle," replete with a five-column picture of the winner celebrating. And only a week ago Spain took its first major soccer title in 44 years by beating Germany in the Euro Cup.

What about the European press, you ask? Well, of the front pages from Spain on our Web site today, about two-thirds either whooped-up the event on Page One or have teases to inside coverage and a third of the dailies have nothing about the victory on the first page. El Periodico in Barcelona has a page-wide photo similar to that in The New York Times, El Mundo in Madrid has a different page-wide photo of "The hero of Wimbledon," while Malaga Hoy in Malaga runs off with the prize for two Page One action pictures that seem to be moving of the man who made it happen, Rafael Nadal.

As to where it happened, The Guardian in London also has a large photo and a lead story about how "Nadal wins historic final," by defeating Roger Federer, The Daily Telegraph in London has a picture of our hero with his trophy, while The Herald in Glasgow, Scotland, also has the winner with his trophy and a story about "Victory in record-breaking final."

Coverage varied in the rest of Europe. De Morgen in Brussels, Belgium, teases to an inside story with a photo of Nadal,24 Hours Daily and Trud in Sofia, Bulgaria, do the same, as do Lidove Noviny in Prague, Czech Republic, and Corriere della Sera in Milan, Italy. However, Publico in Lisbon, Portugal, and Dagens Nyheter in Stockholm, Sweden, feel that an action photo of the Wimbledon winner is worthy of Page One.

Wimbledon didn't get the play that Spain's win last week did but maybe that's the difference between tennis and soccer.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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July 3, 2008

If it happens every year, is it news?

By Bridget Gutierrez

The Fourth of July marks America’s independence from imperial British rule, but is it still news 232 years later? Judging from today’s front pages, yes.

The Providence Journal devoted no less than three-fourths of Page One to a “FOURTH OF JULY IN RHODE ISLAND” package, which included three separate stories. The first is about a corrupt politician returning from jail to march shamelessly in a local parade; the second explains a squabble among historic re-enactors involved in a different parade; and the third reports that high gas prices are keeping families home for the holiday. Looks like the reporters have all the angles covered.

The Bakersfield Californian gave over the top half of its front page to holiday coverage focusing on the ever-popular Fourth of July fireworks and problems local nonprofit groups are having selling their sparkly wonders. “FIREWORK FIZZLE?” is accompanied by an enlarged photo of a young boy staring longingly at the tempting incendiaries and a sidebar of “FIREWORKS FACTS,” which provides helpful tips about what’s legal and what’s not. Forget the bottle rockets.

Editors and reporters at Maine’s Portland Press Herald have so much to report about Independence Day and its historical significance that they’re running a multi-part series: “CELEBRATING INDEPENDENCE.” Today’s installment includes an illustration of Benedict Arnold, an image of a painting of the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War and a modern-day photograph of Fort Popham. Did you know a typical Fourth of July feast for early Americans consisted of salt pork, turtle soup and pigeon pudding? Me, neither.

Instead of articles, the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times and Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal used large and colorful graphics to provide readers information on local festivities. In Pensacola, those include a hotdog-eating contest, 5k race, parade of boats and play titled, “We The People.” Whew, those journalists are going to be busy!

The Bozeman (Mont.) Daily Chronicle, The Boston Globe, New Haven (Conn.) Register and The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch all give the holiday a feature treatment today. In New Haven, the good news: “EXPLODING SALES: Fireworks thrive as booming business for many.” In Columbus, the bad: “Choice seats all taken.” Darn.

Some papers used the front page simply to alert readers to their coverage inside or online. The San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News placed a colorful strip of fireworks images above its nameplate to prompt readers to “THE WORKS!” — an online holiday guide with a searchable database of events.

Who knew a perennial story could generate so much news?

Bridget Gutierrez is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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July 2, 2008

Newspapers make and
break economic news

By Kate Kennedy

“‘Slow-Motion Recession,’” The New York Times said, quoting an economist. Whatever you call it, the economic turndown continues to make headlines, with today’s news led by a grim report on auto sales.

“Slumping sales cloud Big Three’s prospects,” The Detroit News said. “Soaring gas prices put auto sales in the ditch,” the Los Angeles Times said. The Philadelphia Inquirer incorporated photos and down arrows to chart the decline in sales year-over-year.

Many of the largest U.S. newspapers had economic news on their lead page. Said USA Today, “High gas prices threaten to shut down rural towns.” “Deepening Cycle of Job Loss Seen Lasting into ’09,” The New York Times said, while The Miami Herald reported on out-of-work construction workers.

And then there was the jolt from the popular coffee maker. “Bean counting: 600 Starbucks stores to close,” The Denver Post said.

Today’s economic realities are showing up not only in newspaper stories but in the newspapers themselves. The list of locations that have redesigned or changed their newspapers continues to grow.

The editor of the Ventura County (Calif.) Star was clear about the reasons behind changes in the sectioning of his newspaper. “The current economic downturn — and whatever you call it, in the newspaper industry it’s a recession — is forcing us to make changes for the sole purpose of cutting costs,” Joe Howry wrote.

On Tuesday, the Tyler (Texas) Morning Telegraph began producing a newspaper with a narrower width — a response to the increasing cost of newsprint.

Whether to save money or lure new readers (or hold on to the ones they have), newspapers are changing – inside and out.

On Sunday, The Record of Hackensack, N.J., showed off a new design that incorporated a new at-a-glance summary of important stories of the day.

Also this week, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland went public with a “remodeled main news section.” Changes to Page Two, the opinion page and inside sections were outlined in a nicely done package about the newspaper in Sunday’s paper. A bottom-of-the-page strip on today’s Page One highlights changes “to keep you better informed and streamline our operations.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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July 1, 2008

Some literature in a hurry
in your hometown newspaper

By Gene Mater

Matthew Arnold, an English poet, writer and cultural critic who died in 1888, may not be one of the favorites in your household, but he is a hero to some for having contended that "Journalism is literature in a hurry." Of course, we have to give a positive spin to what Matthew meant. Today, we thought that we would do a little spot-checking to see what dailies are telling local readers.

The East Valley Tribune in Scottsdale, Ariz., seems to offer a positive reaction to the high gasoline prices in reporting “less 4th of July travel,” while The Sentinel-Record in Hot Springs, Ark., goes the other way and leads with a study showing that “Visitors spent $309M+” and The Sun in San Bernardino, Calif., offers a literary “Crash site seems surreal next day.”

The Denver Post has an off-lead piece about “Power to the street people” in the upcoming Democratic National Convention, contending that “City has no plans to hide the homeless during all the hoopla.” The Hartford Courant in Connecticut has two arty heads to invite the reader — “A show of care” about violence and “An avenue to controversy” about the historic district.

In Florida, the Naples Daily News has an inviting headline at the bottom of Page One: “Free gas for life? That’s the (winning) ticket, says Florida Lottery.” The Moscow-Pullman Daily News in Idaho leads with “Committee fine-tuning designs for arts pavilion,” and The Herald-Times in Bloomington, Ind., plays up the power of MUSIC, and they spell it in capital letters. The Chicago Tribune offers as its off-lead “I’m now reading a story on microblogs.” The Morning Sentinel in Waterville, Maine, plays up “Community garden offers families a chance to produce and give something back” and the Duluth News Tribune in Minnesota reports on a new book of photos showing the faces of the town of Ely.

The Lincoln Journal Star in Nebraska squares off a poignant story about “Former WWII pilots get to ride in a Flying Fortress again.” The Post-Standard in Syracuse, N.Y., reports that the local United Way hears the “needs of the smallest” and helps teen parents and their babies, while Bluffton Today in South Carolina reports on residents joining a “town effort to chart neighborhoods’ future” and the Gazette-Times in Corvallis, Ore., reports on a “Vehicle running on sunshine,” complete with photo. The Post-Crescent in Appleton, Wis., has an inviting Page One story about “Students open eyes to brighter future” and a program that “gets American Indians on degree track.”

It isn’t all the usual “two dead, three hurt in car crash.” There’s some hurried literature along the way in your hometown newspaper.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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June 30, 2008

Spain wins its first major
soccer title in 44 years

By Gene Mater

It was a victory 44 years in the making and waiting, but it happened and it’s Page One news for the winners, the losers and the country where it happened. Even the U.S. newspaper of record, The New York Times, uses a Page One tease to send readers inside to read about “Spain’s first major soccer title in 44 years.”

Let’s start with the winner of the Euro Cup — SPAIN — which we will salute in capital letters. All of Spain’s dailies on Newseum.org have the story on Page One. El Mundo in Madrid unabashedly proclaims, “The glory of Spain,” with a page-wide photo. Malaga Hoy in Malaga fills the page with a photo showing one of the players holding high the cup as the newspaper reports “Champions,” while La Vanguardia in Barcelona also carries a large picture and hails the “Masters of Europe.” Diario de Burgos in Burgos also likes the word “Champions” over a big picture, while La Gaceta de Canarias in Santa Cruz de Tenerife does roughly the same.

What about the losers? After all, the score was 1-0. Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin has a photo and a banner headline that “Germany loses — and celebrates today,” while the Augsburger Allgemeine in Augsburg does much the same with the headline, “Germany nevertheless celebrates today.” Our friends at the Heilbronner Stimme in Heilbronn have three Page One photos and a banner headline reporting that “Spain conquers Europe’s football summit,” while the Neue Westfaelische in Bielefeld has a photo and the words “It would have been so lovely,” and below that, “Deutschland-Spanien 0:1.” The Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichetn in Potsdam carries the banner, “Spain storms the summit.”

What about where it happened, Vienna? The Kurier in Vienna probably says it best with a Page One headline telling all about the “Spanish summer fairy tale,” and how Spain beat Germany 1-0 and won the title for the first time since 1964. Other Austrian newspapers were not quite as exuberant.

You’ll find the Spanish victory Page One news in Diari d’Andorra in Andorra, in De Morgen in Brussels, Belgium, in Nepszabadsag in Budapest, Hungary, in La Repubblica in Rome, in The Guardian in London and elsewhere. We give today’s prize jointly to Dagens Nyheter in Stockholm, Sweden, for its “Viva Espana!” headline and to Lidove Noviny in Prague for managing to get the word “Ole” in its headline, even using the proper accent that we cannot find on our computer.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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June 27, 2008

Gun-ban ruling tops the news

By Patty Rhule

Got guns?

The Supreme Court says that’s fine, and newspaper editors across the country brought out their arsenals to report on the Supreme Court ruling that struck down a ban on handguns in the District of Columbia.

“Justices back personal gun right,” said Little Rock’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The Appeal Democrat in Marysville, Calif., couldn’t resist a pun — “Gun Ban Shot Down” — with photos from a firing range and local reaction.

The San Francisco Chronicle focused on a local ban on handguns in housing projects with “Ruling’s Richochet.” It’s a local issue in Chicago, as well, where the Tribune reports “Daley vows to fight for Chicago gun ban.”

Denver’s Rocky Mountain News featured a firing-range photo with the context headline, “Decision upholding right to keep gun in home breaks 217-year silence.”

The Naples Daily News highlighted the local Florida attorney who has never owned a gun yet successfully challenged the D.C. gun ban.

In Iowa, the Sioux City Journal produced a powerful package with insight, context and local and national reaction, as well as a lineup of how the justices voted.

The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., featured a sad story of a depressed man who took his .45 and shot five co-workers and then himself under “Gunman ‘couldn’t stand pain anymore.’” This atop a shooting-range photo to illustrate “Court strikes down handgun ban.”

The ruling on the Second Amendment resulted in some odd headline juxtapositions. The Mobile, Ala., Press-Register’s top headline was “NBA’s Young Guns.” Lower on the page was a revolver with “U.S. Justices Affirm Rights to Own Guns.”

Since we’re on the subject of things that go boom, fireworks-loving children should take a gander at the front page of the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Md. A photo package shows what happens when fireworks go off in a simulated hand.

Patty Rhule is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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June 26, 2008

Two high court decisions,
many ways to play the stories

By Kate Kennedy

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court released two rulings that captured editors’ attention — rejecting the death penalty for child rape and tossing out a multi-billion dollar judgment in the Exxon Valdez case.

Both rulings have significance. What’s a front page to do?

The New York Times and The Washington Post printed stories on both on the front page, as did The Dallas Morning News. The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press used the death penalty ruling as its off-lead and included the Exxon case in a smaller story below.

The death penalty decision was more widely reported across the U.S., including on Page One of The Denver Post, The Salt Lake (Utah) Tribune, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“High court rules out death for child rape,” The Advocate of Baton Rouge, La., said. “5-4 decision strikes down Louisiana law,” The Blade of Toledo, Ohio, said. But smaller newspapers in Louisiana didn’t give the story A1 play.

“Ruling in Louisiana man’s case affects Texas law passed in ’07,” the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman said. The Houston Chronicle noted the Texas tie in a tease to an inside story but used the Exxon story on its front page. The Tennessean of Nashville played reaction to the decision across the top: “Politicians blast child rape ruling.”

In a full-page report, the Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News said of the decision in the two-decades-old Exxon Valdez oil spill: “‘This is it; it’s done.’”

In the West where environmental issues are a key topic, newspapers favored the Exxon oil-spill case. “The punitive award reduction … frustrates Oregon fisherman,” The Oregonian in Portland said. “The Supreme Court ruling in the 1989 Exxon Valdez case is regarded as a victory for large corporations,” The Idaho Statesman in Boise said.

But news play varied in Montana. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle and Billings Gazette ran the Exxon ruling. The Great Falls Tribune published the death penalty ruling, and the Independent Record in Helena used neither.

In North Carolina, The Charlotte Observer said: “Supreme Court cuts damages in oil spill,” while sister newspaper The News & Observer of Raleigh led with: “Court limits death penalty, again.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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June 25, 2008

A watershed moment for
Florida’s ‘River of Grass’

By Kate Kennedy

News of a historic land deal in Florida took up prime real estate on front pages across the Sunshine State today.

In the deal, U.S. Sugar Corp. will sell 300 square miles in the Everglades to the state for $1.75 billion. “It’s part of effort to clean up, restore Everglades, as sugar business hurt by low-priced imports,” The Ledger of Lakeland said.

The Tampa Tribune noted that the Everglades is a subtropical wilderness and home to birds, reptiles, fish and mammals. It has been under attack by development and pollution. The News-Press of Fort Myers labeled its package “Clean and Green” and said: “Pending sale would help park’s healing.” The News-Press provided an online gallery of aerial photos of the land and a video about the impact of the deal.

The Palm Beach Post called the move the “largest conservation land deal in Florida’s history,” bulleted the benefits and the obstacles and printed a color-coded map of south Florida that also was posted online.

In a striking visual, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale pictured the “River of Grass,” as the Everglades is known. Its headline: “It will cost us a river of cash, but the governor says it’s worth it.” From the state capital, the Tallahassee Democrat reported: “Land buy requires no new money.” The Miami Herald pictured Gov. Charlie Crist and the president of U.S. Sugar, who announced the deal.

The St. Petersburg Times told the story behind the story: “Crist offered buyout as U.S. Sugar hit wall,” adding: “He saw a way to aid Everglades as company tried to survive a crackdown on its pollution.” The Times also considered what will happen when the U.S.’s largest sugarcane grower goes out of business in six years: “Sugar would stay plentiful, pricey.” The Sarasota Herald-Tribune looked at Clewiston along Lake Okeechobee. The community of 7,000 -- “America’s sweetest town” -- will be impacted by U.S. Sugar’s closure. “Where sugar is king, future looks bleak,” the Herald-Tribune

The newly redesigned Orlando Sentinel gave a different twist to the story. Picturing the governor on an earlier Everglades tour with John McCain, the Sentinel said, “For Crist, a sweet deal, too,” adding: “Will the Everglades purchase help the governor snag the VP slot?”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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June 24, 2008

60th anniversary of Berlin Blockade
attracts little newspaper attention

By Gene Mater

Sixty years ago, West Berlin – occupied by U.S., British and French forces – was totally surrounded by Russian-occupied East Berlin and East Germany. And 60 years ago today, the Russians cut off all road, rail and water access to and from West Berlin. The blockade was on; the Berlin Airlift was to start two days later. You’ll find a reference in some of the “This day in history” sites, such as this from The New York Times: “On this day” service: “Communist forces cut off all land and water routes between West Germany and West Berlin, prompting the United States to organize a massive airlift.”

We thought German newspapers would be marking the day in some fashion, but if they are, it’s not on Page One, with a few exceptions. Der Tagesspiegel, the primary newspaper in the American sector of Berlin, which started in 1945, has a Page One photo of the Airlift Memorial with teases to three stories inside and a head proclaiming “That was the airlift.” However, we couldn’t find any reference to the airlift on Page One of the other two Berlin dailies on our site, Die Welt and Die Tageszeitung.

We also checked the front page of the daily published in Germany for American troops in Europe, Stars and Stripes. Again, nary a word to remind today’s military of their heritage. However, we did find brief stories on the two dailies published in Bremen, the Weser-Kurier and the Bremer Nachrichten. Not the showing we expected. Perhaps they’ll do better Thursday, to mark the start of the airlift.

What are the German dailies playing up, you ask? The Heilbronner Stimme in Heilbronn has an impressive photo of a lightning strike to go with the story about the changing climate in the country; the Sueddeutsche Zeitung in Munich plays up a story about a debt limit for the nation and the states; the Fuldaer Zeitung in Fulda has a large keel-up photo of the ferry that sank in the Philippines plus a story; and the Saechsische Zeitung in Dresden tells its readers that smart cards are planned for all workers, but that is topped with large picture of a blonde Canadian singer who – and we’re not making this up — reportedly is heating up Dresden’s young guard.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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June 23, 2008

Election crisis in Zimbabwe
rates some Page One coverage

By Gene Mater

We weren’t surprised to find The New York Times and The Washington Post leading with the election mess having reached crisis stage in Zimbabwe. However, we wondered how other American dailies would treat the story, if at all. How many readers know that Zimbabwe is the former Southern Rhodesia, a landlocked country just north of South Africa, ruled by a tyrant for 28 years who has economically ruined the country so that if we were to print the inflation rate here you would consider it a typo? All right, the International Monetary Fund early this year pegged the inflation rate at more than 150,000 percent. That’s right, 150,000 percent.  Not a typo.

The Anniston (Ala.) Star is typical of many, teasing the story on Page One with details inside, as was done by The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle, the Idaho Statesman in Boise, The Boston Globe and The Dallas Morning News. However, The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., decided to lead with the story, as did the Arkansas Democrat Gazette in Little Rock, while The Blade in Toledo, Ohio, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and the Chicago Tribune found space for less-than-lead stories on Page One.

From Africa, The Namibian in Windhoek, Namibia, leads with the Zimbabwe story, giving much of Page One to coverage.

Comedian George Carlin died yesterday, the timing such that the story didn’t make too many front pages this morning. However, Carlin’s death is on Page One of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colo., and other dailies. The Los Angeles Times has the story on Page One with the headline “Comedian tested limits of speech and society.” To those of us in broadcasting at the time, Carlin will always be remembered as having sparked a Supreme Court decision in July 1978 holding that the First Amendment doesn’t prevent the government from prohibiting the broadcast of “patently offensive” words that fall short of a constitutional definition of obscenity, a ruling as controversial today as it was 30 years ago and facing new court challenges in the months ahead.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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June 20, 2008

Obama turns down millions;
extreme makeover in Orlando

By Kate Kennedy

Barack Obama said no to millions of dollars in public financing for the general election, prompting The Hartford (Conn.) Courant to report in today’s lead headline, “Obama: Go For The Cash.”

The Los Angeles Times greeted Obama’s announcement that he will rely on private fundraising by saying, “Obama sets his own terms for the race.” The shift in strategy also was noted in Illinois, which Obama represents in the Senate. “$500 million man?” the Chicago Tribune asked about the potential for mammoth contributions. “How record fundraising could change the campaign.”

In a report that was different from other newspapers, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel explained the news in a Q&A: “$84.1 million? No thanks, Obama says.”

Is the Sentinel’s Q&A a sign of things to come?

On Sunday, the Sentinel will be dressed in a new design. The upcoming redesign has been promoted at the top of the newspaper’s front page all week: “New look. New stories. New attitude.”

Charlotte Hall, the Sentinel’s senior vice president and editor, said today that the new look represents the newspaper’s efforts “to be a little hotter — more personal, people focused, consumer focused, watchdog focused.” Hall used descriptions “more accessible,” “conversational,” “more voices,” “more provocative,” and “easier to navigate” in talking about the changes.

A prototype of the new design reveals a front page with a smaller nameplate, a digest at the top that includes at least one face and a promotion of columnists, a blowout of the best stories of the day — with continued focus on local — and a bottom-of-the-page feature that emphasizes new ways of telling stories and presenting information.

“We think we’re telling stories more smartly,” Hall says in a video that explains the changes.

The redesign, part of a move to a smaller page width, had been in the works before word that all Tribune newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and The Hartford Courant, would be redesigned by October. Tribune Co. also said earlier this month that the newspapers would increase their percentage of advertising to 50% and cut the number of pages.

Hall said the redesign began with the Sentinel’s interest in attracting more readers in their 30s and 40s. With much newsroom focus on the Web today, Hall said, it was exciting to also improve the printed paper. “We need to keep our paper strong.”

Hall noted research has shown that readers want local news, personally useful news and watchdog news. “All of these are playing into what we put on Page One every day” and into the newspaper’s new look.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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June 19, 2008

Woods’ absence will leave
big hole in golf world

By John Maynard

The golf season is about to get a lot more boring.

While some may wonder how this particular game could become even less interesting, golf fans worldwide are mourning the announcement yesterday that Tiger Woods — the world’s top golfer — soon will have season-ending knee surgery.

“Tiger’s surgery sinks golf season,” reads a banner headline in The Press of Atlantic City, N.J. “A wounded Tiger,” declares The Huntsville (Ala.) Times.

Two days after winning the U.S. Open in dramatic fashion, Woods said he would have major surgery on his left knee in order to save his career. But the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel questioned whether it would be enough. “Can Tiger Come Back?” it asks on its front page.

Newspapers in states where Woods was scheduled to play later this year took the news personally. With Woods slated to appear in two upcoming tournaments in Michigan, The Detroit News laments “Tiger-less summer a bummer for state.”

This year’s Ryder Cup will take place at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., in September. The Courier-Journal of Louisville makes it simple: “Tiger’s out.”

Meanwhile, President Bush’s plea to Congress yesterday to repeal a ban on offshore drilling of oil drew plenty of straightforward headlines. “Bush: Drill Offshore” was how the North County Times in Escondido, Calif., played it.

“Bush urges lawmakers to lift offshore-drilling plan,” says the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram.

Some papers take a slightly more measured tone to the Bush announcement, including the Moscow-Pullman (Idaho) Daily News: “Bush: Embrace energy exploration now.”

And one paper notes the politics of it all. “Democrats Lay Into Bush’s Call for Offshore Drilling,” says the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press.

John Maynard is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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June 18, 2008

McClatchy publishes series as
national security methods debated

By Kate Kennedy

National security was back in the headlines today as the treatment of terrorism suspects was debated on the presidential campaign trail and in a Capitol Hill hearing.

The Washington Post led with a clash between John McCain and Barack Obama over the rights of suspects: “In Sharp Exchange, Each Side Calls Other’s Position a Risk.” Below that, the Post quoted documents released Tuesday by congressional investigators: “CIA Played Larger Role in Advising Pentagon” on interrogation methods. The Tennessean in Nashville noted, “Senators chastise Pentagon over harsh interrogations.”

The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash., reported: “Documents show U.S. hid detainees from Red Cross,” and The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., said: “Doctors: Terror suspects abused.”

This week, McClatchy newspapers are publishing a series, “Guantanamo: Beyond the Law,” after eight months of investigative work. “Skirting the code of justice,” The Modesto (Calif.) Bee said in today’s installment that described the “framework that led to abuse of detainees” held at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. “Easing of laws that led to detainee abuse hatched in secret,” The Telegraph of Macon, Ga., said, while The Miami Herald headlined the story: “Policy objectives trumped the law.”

In many parts of the U.S., Midwest flooding was pictured. But, for the first time in days, flooding did not monopolize The Des Moines Register’s front page. With water receding, it said: “Draining bares bits of life caked in mud.” The Register’s Web site, with its breaking-news blog, audio and informative map of Iowa City flooding, is being quoted by other news media. Sister newspaper the Iowa City Press-Citizen, which published seven inside pages of flood coverage today, has offered daily updates through electronic newsletters.

In the end, it wasn’t even close. The Celtics defeated the Lakers, 131-92, for the NBA championship, leading the Los Angeles Times to show its frustration in a cutline: “The game was over by halftime, but it only got worse.” The Daily News in L.A. described the loss this way: “Shamrocked.”

But The Boston Globe celebrated being “Back on Top.” “Three Big Cheers,” said the Boston Herald in a wrap-around picturing three Celtic stars. Maine and New Hampshire newspapers were green in delight, as well. The Bangor Daily News used spot green as the Celtics won their 17th NBA title, and The Telegraph in Nashua said: “Green Glory.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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June 17, 2008

Footnotes to history, from
yesterday and years ago

By Gene Mater

Today we would like to offer a couple of footnotes to history, courtesy of the front pages.

First, we have the reports of the same-sex marriages that became legal late yesterday afternoon in California. Some, but not all, of the dailies in the state played up the weddings and the continuing controversy. The Appeal-Democrat in Marysville devotes most of its front page to a photo and a report that “Same-sex couples marry across state,” topped by a couple of stories about opposition that seems to be building, including a court petition to invalidate licenses. The Los Angeles Times also has a Page One photo and a story that “Gay couples are aware that voters are watching,” referring to issues on the November ballot. The Palo Alto Daily News reports that the gay-marriage decision came “Not a moment too soon,” reporting a wedding of octogenarians, one of them in a wheel chair.

The San Francisco Chronicle has a two-line banner headline topping a page-wide photo: “I never thought it would happen in our lifetime.” The New York Times, the newspaper of record, has a Page One photo of those octogenarians and their wedding cake with the caption “Same-sex marriage becomes legal in California,” with the story on Page A15.

In what The Washington Post called “one of the most compelling major events in the storied history of golf,” Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open — his 65th PGA Tour win — in a sudden-death round. “One for the ages,” said the Union-Tribune in San Diego, where the tournament was played.

Then there’s Germany, where 55 years ago today there was an uprising in East Berlin and the Soviet-occupied East Germany as the people protested the repressive communist regime. People in and outside Germany may recall the iconic photos of teenagers throwing rocks at the Russian tanks. The next day, millions were out on the streets throughout the Soviet Zone. Thousands were arrested, with many sentenced to long prison terms. It is uncertain how many were killed. The world cheered on the bravery and audacity of the Germans.

We checked the front pages of German newspapers on our site today. Only one, Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin, seems to have something about the event, a tease to a story on Page 12. So we checked out the English-language Web site of Deutsche Welle and, sure enough, there is a story labeled “history,” replete with a few photos. For those who were not around when it happened, check out the broadcaster’s feature to read and see what it was all about.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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June 16, 2008

Calif. papers focus on local couples
as same-sex marriages begin

By Gene Mater

We wondered how many California newspapers would play up the story that same-sex marriages will start for real and legally this afternoon in the Golden State. Of the 30 front pages on our Web site early this morning, an even dozen played up what was going to happen this afternoon, not just teasing to an inside story. Many found a local angle to bring the issue closer to home.

The Daily Breeze in Torrance reported “Couples get ready for gay weddings,” adding in a drop headline that “Two Torrance men will join the rush to exchange vows when licenses are issued this week,” while The Herald in Monterey says that “Gay couples wrestle with ambivalence” and The Modesto Bee leads with “Taking sides on same-sex marriage,” adding that “Modesto church leaders, others look at law in terms of faith and societal effect.”

The North County Times in Escondido reports about “a love story in Carlsbad,” noting that “Couple say marriage is obvious next step,” while The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa has a couple of Page One photos and a story about “Getting ready to wed” and The Press-Enterprise in Riverside says “Same-sex couples eager to say ‘We’re married.’” The Press-Telegram in Long Beach squares off “Gay couples hope vows are forever” and The San Diego Union-Tribune reports on “Quiet reflection on wedding issue,” while the San Francisco Chronicle squares off “Wedding bells to ring in a new era.” The Daily Journal in San Mateo reports, with photo, about a “Couple among the first to ‘be part of history,’” and the Ventura County Star tells its readers that “Same-sex couples plan Tuesday weddings.”

The Examiner in San Francisco wins today’s prize with a photo of holding hands in front of city hall taking up most of the tabloid front page and the words “History awaits at 5:01,” adding that “The same-sex marriage movement hits pinnacle as legal nuptials begin tonight at City Hall.”

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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June 13, 2008

In devastated Iowa, ‘Epic
Surge’ and ‘Swath of Sorrow’

By Kate Kennedy

“Iowa besieged by skies and rivers.”

The Chicago Tribune summed up the sorrow and sadness in western Iowa and the fear and frustration in eastern Iowa as the state dealt with the deaths of four Boy Scouts in a tornado and flooding along rivers swollen by record rains.

“EPIC SURGE,” The Gazette in Cedar Rapids proclaimed in a display that incorporated both the front and back pages. With the Cedar River flooding 100 city blocks, the newspaper used a three-deck headline:

High Water Overtakes Downtown Cedar Rapids

Thousands Evacuated in Unprecedented Flood

Power Loss Widespread; Water in Short Supply

“It’s a hell of a front page,” Editor Steve Buttry said. With floodwaters a half-block from the newspaper’s office, the staff was working off generators in a sweltering newsroom.

Today’s headline, Buttry said, “was team work. We started the headline brainstorming in the afternoon, and it continued (around other tasks) for hours. Designer Michelle Wiese came up with the wrap idea. Rae Riebe, our Page One editor, designed the page.”

The main photo showed a marooned city hall and county jail and courthouse, which generally sit on an island. The newspaper’s Web site said: “No longer an island.” Said Buttry: “Liz Martin shot the photo from the Interstate 380 bridge, the only downtown bridge that was open. The city hall building on the island is a downtown landmark, so the image really captures what happened here.”

In a column that will run this weekend, Buttry — who is new as The Gazette’s editor — wrote that the newspaper resisted an order to evacuate its downtown office, noting that news crews perform “essential tasks for the community in a time of disaster.” A disaster plan with an alternative newsroom is in place if the newspaper must evacuate.

With rivers across Iowa and elsewhere in the Midwest above flood stage, it’s being called historic flooding. A blog by a Gazette librarian showed front pages from March 1929 flooding, a “record until today.”

In western Iowa, the Sioux City Journal showed a “Swath of Sorrow” at a Boy Scout camp after a “Twister struck, killed within seconds.” In a heartbreaking front page, the nearby Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald offered comments and photos from vigils for the four teenage victims. A quote was its banner headline: “‘We are a family.’”

The Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star quoted survivors on “their harrowing twister experience.” This was no small-town news. National newspapers The New York Times and USA Today told the story on Page One. “Pelting Rain, Deafening Howl, Then Deadly Chaos for Scouts,” the Times said.

Front-page accolades were offered for the boys’ actions in helping the injured. USA Today explained, “Boys put first aid drills into action.” The Wichita Eagle — which also covered Kansas tornados that killed two — said: “Boys epitomized scout motto: Be prepared.”

The Denver Post headlined the news from across Iowa. “‘At God’s mercy,’” it said.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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June 12, 2008

Twister tragedy takes front page

By Bridget Gutierrez

Sometimes a story’s so big it crowds out other news and takes over the front page. Today’s example: A deadly twister in Iowa that struck, of all things, a Boy Scout camp.

With four deaths and dozens of injuries in Little Sioux, the nearby Sioux City Journal devoted Page One to a “Night of terror,” with a photograph that takes up nearly half of the page, two articles, a locator map and a box referring readers to “Complete coverage online.”

The Omaha World-Herald in Nebraska (about 60 miles away) gives the news similar treatment. Photos from the scene and five stacked headlines — summarized with the brief, but wrenching, “At nature’s mercy” — convey the tragedy’s scope.

Although The Denver Post teased to an inside story on the twister, its competitor, the Rocky Mountain News, filled its cover with a photograph of a distraught Boy Scout mother.

Because destructive storms have been pounding the Midwest this week, the Boy Scout report got swept up into pages at The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star, which look at the larger weather woes.

The story was big news in other parts of the country, too. The Chicago Tribune placed a staff-written article on the Boy Scouts at the bottom of its font page; the Los Angeles Times displayed a photo of rescuers prominently; and New York’s Daily News alerted readers to the “TWISTER!” — underneath photos of a model and a professional baseball player, of course.

Bridget Gutierrez is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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June 11, 2008

Attack of the killer tomatoes!

By Hicks Wogan

You say “to-may-to” and I say “to-mah-to.” But however we say it, it’s front-page news. Since mid-April, salmonella-tainted tomatoes have sickened more than 150 people in 17 states, putting restaurants and consumers on alert. Today newspapers across the country highlighted the story as health officials, searching for the outbreak’s source, struggled to ketchup.

Forgive me. Please don’t throw tomatoes.

In Casa Grande, Ariz. — not far from Mexico, where the western U.S. gets much of its tomato supply — The Dispatch warns that this story is “Bad news no matter how you slice it.” To prove it, they use a photo of a tomato sliced in half. The Columbian in Vancouver, Wash., introduces its center-page story as “Cooks, diners hold the tomatoes.” And in Canton, Ohio, The Repository calms few nerves with the all-caps “RED SCARE.”

Worries surrounding the popular fruit have grown south of the border, too. In San Juan, Puerto Rico, El Nuevo Día devotes the entire page to “Temor por el tomate” and uses a photo of a tomato wearing a yellow sash labeled “Precaución,” like some downfallen beauty queen. In Mérida, Mexico, the Diario de Yucatán reads “Investigan al tomato.”

After issuing a voluntary ban, the FDA has approved the tomatoes of many counties in Florida, the state that dominates the eastern U.S. market. There, in Sebring, Highlands Today plays up the “Red Fruit Alert” in a font colored — what else? — red. Also earning the stamp of FDA approval: the Creole tomatoes of Louisiana, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. California, too, is in the clear, though the Ventura County Star points out that, financially, “Tomato industry in a pickle,” while the Santa Barbara News-Press says the public is “Seeing red.”

Neighbors to the north might be benefitting from the whole thing. Toronto’s The Globe and Mail notes that “Canada profits from tomato fears” and, in a subheadline, “buyers turn to B.C., Ontario.” The Ottawa Sun seconds this theory and promises a Page 2 story.

Through it all, Alaska continues to play it cool. The Anchorage Daily News recommends that “If you’re worried, eat local produce” and instead gives its front-page focus to a story about the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s testing of bear-proof trash cans. In the trash cans, so irresistible to bears: salmon, peanut butter, and red, round, juicy, delicious apples.

Hicks Wogan is a staff assistant at the Newseum.

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June 10, 2008

Local dailies give full coverage
to weather problems in Midwest

By Gene Mater

When something really big happens in your world, it’s your local newspaper that often provides all the information you want and need — and then some. Continuing rainstorms and flooding in the Midwest made the television network news broadcasts last night, and there’s even a Page One photo of washed-away Wisconsin homes in The New York Times today with another photo and a 575-word story on Page A11. However, we thought that we would check out the dailies in three of the hard-hit states.

In Indiana, The Herald-Times in Bloomington gives over almost all of Page One to the story, with a banner head “Flooding recovery: Assessing damage, seeking assistance for flood victims,” and a photo and several sidebars with more inside. The Indianapolis Star tops Page One with a page-wide photo, two stories, another photo and a guide to “expanded coverage inside.” The Kokomo Tribune reports “Record flooding with the drop head “Marines sandbag Elnora as new storms batter area,” while the Post-Tribune in Merrrillville has a banner “FLOODED,” a photo and teases to three inside stories. The Times in Munster warns in an off-lead story that “Indiana braces for more storms.” The South Bend Tribune plays up “Indiana copes with flooding,” with a couple of pictures.

In Iowa, The Gazette in Cedar Rapids has a banner “Iowa under siege” and above that eye-catching brief reports of the status of things in six different areas in the state, accompanied by a map to locate those places, all on a page worthy of a round of praise. The Des Moines Register devotes its entire page to flooding with the headline: “Preparing for the worst.”

Finally, we come to Wisconsin, where dailies have Page One pictures of washed-away homes on the shores of Lake Delton. Indeed, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tops its page-wide photo with the banner “Washed Away,” while the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison banners “A Catastrophe” and The Post-Crescent in Appleton reports “Deluge brings washout.” The Leader-Telegram in Eau Claire has its photo below the fold with the head “Flooding sweeps away homes,” and the Green Bay Press Gazette does the same, with the head “Overflowing lake washes away houses, hurts tourism.” The Kenosha News and the Herald Times Reporter in Manitowoc also have Page One flood coverage, leaving only the Wausau Daily Herald with nary a Page One word or photo about flooding problems elsewhere in the state.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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June 9, 2008

Many report $4-a-gallon gasoline,
while others worry about the impact

By Gene Mater

There seems to be some magic in the number four. In 1954, Roger Bannister ran the mile in under four minutes, something that conventional wisdom said couldn’t be done. Now everyone’s doing it. And so it is in this nation of drivers that many newspapers are telling us what is painfully aware to all, that regular gasoline at the pump now tops $4 a gallon.

It’s the off-lead story in The Decatur Daily in Alabama, with a one-column head “U.S. gas average hits the $4 mark,” while the Arkansas Democrat Gazette in Little Rock leads with “In U.S. first, gas average hits $4.” The Denver Post warns its readers “$4 a gallon and climbing,” and another Colorado daily, The Gazette in Colorado Springs found some red ink to point up in capital letters “FOUR BUCKS.”

The Day in New London, Conn., squares off at the top of Page One “Gas speeds by another milestone,” an approach similar to the lead in The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla., with the head “Gas reaches $4 milestone for 1st time.”

In Kailua Kona, West Hawaii Today gives over a good part of Page One to the “Rising pain” of the $4 gallon while The Lewiston Tribune in Idaho perks interest with “Companies turn heads with offers of free gas” and the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago leads with a simple “Gas hits all-time high.” The Hutchinson News in Kansas squares off “Gas hits national average of $4 for first time,” and The Kansas City Star — that’s the one in Kansas City, Mo. — leads with “Average price in the U.S. hits $4.”

There were many others, but two Page One treatments caught our eye. The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., squares off “Wall Street is bracing for a bumpy ride today on $4 gasoline,” and The Wall Street Journal in New York leads with a four-column head “Gasoline hits average of $4 a gallon” and the drop head “Price shock among the worst in a generation will worsen the risk of recession.” Now that’s troublesome if not worrisome.

We quickly became used to Roger Bannister’s four-minute mile, a record that has been broken so many times that today it’s only a memory. Will it be that way with the $4 a gallon gasoline?

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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June 6, 2008

These are the stories
you don't see everywhere

By Emily Hedges

Some lazy, summer Fridays, we like to highlight the front-page stories that you won't see everywhere. Some are strange, some funny, and some feature great photographs. In no particular order:

A high-dollar image: Ever wonder what $360,000 in $20 bills looks like? Well, wonder no longer! The Mobile, Ala., Press-Register's front page features a story about police finding a bunch of cash during a traffic stop, and the accompanying photo shows all the bundles of bills stacked into a nice $360,000 pyramid.

Disturbing photos: The Republican-American in Waterbury, Conn., shows three stills from a video in which a pedestrian was struck by a hit-and-run driver and not helped by by-standers until almost a full minute after the accident. The photos show cars driving past the victim and other pedestrians walking by.

A nearly X-rated picture: A strategically placed surfboard and bicycle are all that shield our eyes from the nude beachgoers in this San Diego Union-Tribune front-page photo. We wonder how long it took the photographer to get the perfect, tasteful shot.

Girls of the Windy City: Sports fans and single guys are probably interested in the Chicago Sun-Times front page today. The newspaper wants to know which team, the White Sox or the Cubs, has the "hottest fans." All budding photographers and model-wannabes are encouraged to send in their photos.

Another good reason not to play with guns: The headline of Parsippany, N.J.'s Daily Record reads "Actor shot in head sues Wild West City." The front-page article reports on a former cowboy re-enactor who was accidentally shot in the head during a show.

Headline of the Day: New York’s Daily News, reporting on "Two wackos" who scaled the New York Times building yesterday: "The New York Climbs" (written in New York Times script, get it?)

"Sorry, wrong number": The Post Star in Glens Falls, N.Y., gives us the front-page story of the woman who recently got a new cell phone number — Gov. David Paterson's former number. The woman said she's been receiving up to 20 calls per day, which has prompted her to record a voicemail message stating, "I've never been the governor of anything."

Can't get enough political stories? This story is less Clinton and Obama and more a "sign" of the times. Political signs and the messages they send are on the front page of today's Forum in Fargo, N.D.

How old are you? Rock Hill, S.C.'s Herald is hoping to make you feel old with a unique take on the standard graduation story. This year's high school graduates are the first born in the 1990s. These kids were in kindergarten in 1995 — where were you?

Here comes the bride: It's a June wedding of a different sort on the front page of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Miller is the groom and Coors is the bride in this marriage, er, merger. In the front-page photo, a Miller Lite bottle wears a bowtie and the Coors Light carries a bouquet of roses and baby's breath. Cheers to the happy couple!

Emily Hedges is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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June 5, 2008

Cup runneth over for papers
with hockey, Red Wings fans

By Kate Kennedy

Clinton hasn’t bowed out yet, and Obama and McCain haven’t picked vice presidential candidates, so let’s skip politics for another kind of competition: Sports.

The Red Wings won the Stanley Cup, mega news for Detroit. “Sweet Stanley!” proclaimed The Detroit News. “Red Reign,” said the Detroit Free Press, which has produced Stanley Cup fronts during the finals. In Port Huron, an hour from the Motor City, the Times Herald said: “Wings skate home with Stanley Cup.” Across the border in Ohio, The Blade of Akron covered the win with a stand-alone photo. Across the border in Canada, the Toronto Sun pictured Nicklas Lidstrom, the first European to captain a Stanley Cup-winning team, and said: “How Swede it is!”

For the losing Penguins, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cried, “Cup unfulfilled” and added, “Penguins’ dream season ends in 3-2 loss to Detroit.” The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review published an eye-catching photo and said: “Just Shy of a Miracle.”

“The Legendary Rivalry Resumes,” The Boston Globe announced in a centerpiece about the Celtics-Lakers matchup in the NBA championship, which begins tonight. The Los Angeles Times, which published an “NBA Finals” special section, used its front page to examine ticket prices: “Lakers golden as money draw.” The Providence (R.I.) Journal stripped a profile of Laker Kobe Bryant across the top of its front page. The Las Vegas Review-Journal noted, “Harrah’s to reject NBA bets” as “Casino chief owns part of Boston Celtics.”

Looking ahead, The Miami Herald previewed Saturday’s Belmont Stakes and a possible Big Brown win: “Struggling racetracks root for a rare Triple Crown.” Newsday on Long Island, home to Belmont Park, produced a 12-page pullout guide to the race.

“Chicago in final four,” the suburban Daily Herald said after it was announced that the Windy City joined Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro as finalists to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. The news made the front page across Illinois, including on the Rockford Register Star, which profiled each of the cities. Jornal Do Commercio in Rio de Janeiro and El Mundo in Madrid covered their cities’ bids.

Still need your daily political fix? Try the Los Angeles Times (“Clinton set to end run, back Obama”); The Arizona Republic in Phoenix (“Clinton remains a key factor/Both sides to court her female bloc”); the Chicago Tribune (“History shows the best bets rarely make the cut as final running mates”); the St. Petersburg Times (“Crist could be vice president, McCain says”); the Orlando Sentinel (“What would it take for Obama to carry Florida?”); and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (“Black Atlantans relish Obama win”).

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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June 4, 2008

Page 1 records history as Obama
secures Democratic nomination

By Kate Kennedy


The Daily News of New York used the one-word headline as Barack Obama became the first African-American to be a major party's presidential nominee.

“Claiming a place in history,” said The Oregonian in Portland, which pictured Obama and his wife, Michelle, across the width of its page. Said the Idaho Statesman in Boise: “In a nation still carrying 400 years of racial baggage, Obama’s victory marks ‘an extraordinary moment.’”

Obama claimed the Democratic nomination in a speech in St. Paul, Minn., site of the Republicans’ national convention in September. The Pioneer Press, like the San Francisco Chronicle and The Seattle Times, quoted Obama in its banner headline. “‘This is Our Time,’” it said. Across the Mississippi, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis said: “Thousands jam downtown St. Paul as the Illinois senator becomes the first black major-party nominee.”

Tim Russert of NBC called Tuesday night’s events — a claim of victory by Obama, a non-concession speech by Hillary Clinton and an address kicking off the general-election campaign by Republican John McCain — a trifecta. The Detroit Free Press best captured news from the Democrats: “He’s in, but she’s not out.”

Speaking of great headlines, The Star-Ledger of Newark said: “Clinton speaks one ‘u’ word (unity) but not another (uncle).” Washington Post label headlines were as good as its main headlines: “Slogging to Victory,” “‘What Does Hillary Want?’” and “A Maryland Superdelegate’s Diary.”

Analysis pieces were common. “Next on Agenda Is Clinton’s Role,” The New York Times said. Some focused on Obama — “How an upstart derailed the ‘inevitable’ nominee,” the Houston Chronicle said; others on his opponent — “For Clinton, end began in Iowa,” The Philadelphia Inquirer said.

There also was local reaction. The Providence (R.I.) Journal said, “Locally, African-Americans take pride in Obama,” while the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader noted: “Kentuckians Like Obama/Clinton Idea.”

Several states had primaries Tuesday, but they mattered little to many front pages. From South Dakota, the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls summed it up: “Clinton Takes State, Obama Wins Nation.” The Great Falls Tribune said: “Montana’s superdelegates quick to endorse Obama.”

On Tuesday evening, an MSNBC commentator looked to European front pages and noted that they weren’t mentioning Clinton. That wasn’t completely true. The Guardian of London used a large centerpiece to say: “Clinton’s White House dream draws to an end.” Clinton appeared on front pages in various parts of the world — Italy, France, the Netherlands and Lebanon, among others. Obama made headlines in Ireland, Spain, Germany, Israel, Peru and Chile. From The Globe and Mail in Toronto: “It’s Obama for president.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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June 3, 2008

There are many Page One stories
besides the Democratic Party issues

By Gene Mater

Is there anything happening in the United States besides today’s last presidential primaries and speculation about who will be the Democratic candidate for president, and how it will happen? After checking the front pages from literally every state, the answer is a resounding YES.

Starting with Alabama, the Press-Register in Mobile leads with “Teacher gets 10 years in sex case” for trying to lure a former student. We’d like to think it’s a coincidence, but right next to that story is a picture of a smiling teacher, a different teacher, looking at her science creation and the headline “Making education fun,” which we’ll leave at that.

The Anchorage Daily News in Alaska tells us that the entry fee is going up and the winning purse going down for the famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, two good reasons for our not competing. Meanwhile, the Scottsdale Tribune in Arizona whoops up the shortages at the food bank, with requests for those in need up 20 percent, and the Daily News in Los Angeles reports “The show must go on,” with Universal Studios open to visitors after the big fire, replete with a photo of a tour bus near the ruins.

The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., squares off “Polygamists reunited with children,” a story played up by others. The Washington, D.C, edition of The Examiner leads with the Sen. Edward Kennedy story about his surgery — “Next for Teddy: Chemo, radiation,” while quoting him saying that “I feel like a million bucks.” The Boston Globe reports that “Kennedy has ‘successful’ surgery.”

The Daytona Beach News-Journal in Florida leads with “Soaring fuel prices spark thievery of gas, diesel.” The Sun in Baltimore plays up, with photos, a gasoline story, warning that “Cabbies take stand amid high gas prices.”

But it’s the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press that gets a gold star for its Page One play of a different election story that asks “What makes us special?”, presumably answering the question that it also poses in big type: “Why does Minnesota, a politically tiny state tucked between the coasts, get so much attention during campaign seasons?” We might go back and read that one at coffee-break time.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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June 2, 2008

Newspapers are a growth business
worldwide, media group reports

By Gene Mater

This is the day that the World Association of Newspapers in Paris comes out with its annual World Press Trends report. Rather than tell you what’s in a few of today’s dailies we thought that we would share with our faithful readers some of the incidental intelligence about newspapers worldwide that we found in a detailed press release provided by our friends at WAN about their 930-page report on newspapers published in 232 countries and territories.

WAN starts with the assertion that “newspapers are a growth business,” that on a worldwide basis paid circulation was up 2.57% in 2007, that advertising was up slightly last year and has increased 14.3% in the past five years. Indeed, WAN notes, “Newspaper circulation has been rising or stable in three-quarters of the world’s countries over the past five years and in nearly 80% of countries in the past year.”

That’s a shocker to those familiar with the newspaper situation in the United States. Indeed, many U.S. dailies have been in a cost-cutting cycle that has seen staff reductions and other cuts in a number of cities. WAN agrees that the North American picture isn’t the same as the rest of the world, with circulation down 2.14% and an even greater decline — 2.37% — in the European Union countries. Advertising in U.S. dailies — the largest advertising market in the world — was down 3% last year.

So where is all this growth? WAN reports that the number of newspaper titles is up everywhere but North America — up 5.3% in Asia, 4.55% in Australia and Oceana, 3.99% in Africa, 2.54% in South America and 0.48% in Europe.

Paid daily circulation has reached a new high of 532 million worldwide, according to WAN. The five largest newspaper markets are China, with 107 million copies sold daily; India, 99 million; Japan, 68 million; U.S., almost 51 million; and Germany, 20.6 million. WAN adds that there are now 312 free daily newspapers in the world, with a total circulation of 41 million daily, meaning that 573 million newspapers are circulated every day.

Who buys all these non-free newspapers? WAN says Japan tops the list, with 624 daily sales per thousand adults, followed by Norway with 580 sales per thousand, Finland with 503 and Sweden and Singapore with 449 each.

And who really reads these newspapers? Glad you asked because WAN says the Turks spend the most time with their newspapers — 74 minutes a day, followed by the Belgians with 54 minutes, and the Finns and Chinese, with an average of 48 minutes each.

Newspapers may have their problems, but they don’t seem to be universally fading away.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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May 30, 2008

Solving mystery of Stonehenge:
Headstones make headlines

By Kate Kennedy

Everyone loves a good mystery. And when a mystery is solved, well, that’s Page One news.

“Secret of Stonehenge solved?” the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World asked after British archeologists on Thursday announced that the circle of large stones in southern England is an ancient burial ground. “Elusive Truth Dug Up,” The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post said.

Stonehenge has a mystique that has fascinated tourists for decades, so the announcement of “another mystery unmasked” was found on front pages far and near (although not on United Kingdom pages in our exhibit).

The Hartford (Conn.) Courant made the largest display of the news that the site was a burial ground for a royal dynasty. “Solving Stonehenge,” it said in a package that included a timeline, illustrations and a photo.

The Washington Post, which loves a good investigation, focused on sleuthing by archaeologists: “Conclusion Runs Counter to Long-Held Theories.” The Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal described the use of radiocarbon dating on cremated bodies and said: “A Royal Clue.” “The findings indicate that kings ruled part of Britain long ago,” The Blade in Toledo, Ohio, noted. “Mystery of Stonehenge continues to unravel,” the Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News said.

Photos of the familiar stones played an important part in sharing the news. The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Gazette in Colorado Springs and The Seattle Times used silhouettes. The Register-Guard of Eugene, Ore., let the stones stand on their own in its image.

The Los Angeles Times used a photo on Page One, but the Times story appeared on other front pages, including the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press, which used a graphic headline: “Solved.” Other newspapers, including The Providence (R.I.) Journal, used a photo to refer to a story inside.

There always are doubters, which might explain why some front pages used question headlines. The Star Tribune of Minneapolis asked: “Stonehenge, marker for dead royalty?” while the St. Louis (Mo.) Post-Dispatch asked: “A royal cemetery?” And from the Milwaukee (Wis.) Journal Sentinel: “Was Stonehenge really headstones?”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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May 29, 2008

No love lost between aide,
White House after kiss, tell

By Patty Rhule

“Et tu, McClellan?”

That’s how West Hawaii Today of Kailua Kona presented the repercussions to news that former White House press spokesman Scott McClellan’s new book claims President Bush manipulated the facts to “sell” the public on the war in Iraq.

“Truth-telling or betrayal?” asks USA Today. “Ex-Bush aide’s criticisms stun a team built on loyalty.”

“‘This is not the Scott we knew,’” says the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, quoting administration insiders.

“McClellan: Disgruntled or White House Whistleblower?” posed Colorado’s Aurora Sentinel.

“Capital Backlash,” says The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, adding a quote for context: “Generally, there is a tacit understanding when you leave you don’t make a lot of waves.”

New Orleans’ Times-Picayune found a local angle to the McClellan memoir, focusing on the image of Bush looking from his plane over the Katrina-ravaged area: “Bush photo after Katrina a big mistake, ex-aide says.”

The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle adds, “President ‘puzzled,’ ‘surprised’ by memoir.” On the same front page comes the teaser “Bangles brighten any outfit.” Take note, Mr. President.

Bangles won’t help cheer the eco-sensitive in Lexington, Ky., where the Herald-Leader’s front page reveals that the city has the worst carbon footprint of 100 cities studied by the Brookings Institution. The headline: “Lexington tops list of enemies to the environment.”

In a local story with historic appeal, The Sun in San Bernardino, Calif., produced an evocative photo and interview package on memories of Robert F. Kennedy’s campaign stop to the area in 1968, as the 40th anniversary of his June 5 assassination nears.

Nose for news: In Hyannis, Mass., the Cape Code Times’ “Crime of passion” reveals a local trend in lilac larceny.

Patty Rhule is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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May 28, 2008

Trend spotter? Page One’s
record is up and down

By Kate Kennedy

The rap: Newspapers spot a trend about the time the trend is over. But a look at today’s front pages shows that’s not completely true.

“Thieves may be watching your flat-screen TVs,” said the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel, noting that law-enforcement officials across the country have reported an increase in flat-screen thefts.

The Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D., pictured a “momtrepreneur” and localized the national trend of moms starting businesses that cater to other moms.

In a centerpiece called “Engine troubles,” The Spokesman-Review reported that Spokane, Wash., like many cities, has experienced a significant increase in the number of medical runs for its fire departments. The result: wear and tear on fire engines and suggestions to buy cheaper trucks designed for medical emergencies.

Newspapers across the U.S. reported on government data that show childhood obesity rates peaking. “Study shows percentage has leveled off after 25 years of increases,” the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star said in its lead story.

And newspapers in tornado-prone areas published an AP story noting that 2008 already is the deadliest tornado year since 1998. “A whirlwind year,” The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., said. USA Today, a trend spotter, first reported the stretch of severe weather two weeks ago.

In other trends, the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman reported that criminal cases against immigrants are up, the Portsmouth (N.H.) Herald said tourists are spending less in this tight economy, and The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune illustrated the rising costs associated with high school graduation.

We all know that the trend for gas prices is up, up, up. In today’s headline, The Oregonian said: “Drivers face crude awakening.” The Journal News of Westchester County, N.Y., and The Philadelphia Inquirer were two newspapers that chronicled commuters’ move to mass transit.

Tell all: “Ex-Press Aide Writes That Bush Misled U.S. on Iraq,” The Washington Post said about a new book by former White House press secretary Scott McClellan. The contents of the book, which also described the president as “authentic” and “sincere,” were first reported by Politico.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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May 27, 2008

Yesterday’s Memorial Day events
memorialized in today’s newspapers

By Gene Mater

Yesterday was Memorial Day in the United States, a day set aside to honor the men and women who died while in military service, a day that is, in turn, memorialized by coverage in today's newspapers.

From the nation’s biggest daily — USA Today — to the No. 1 newspaper in the capital — The Washington Post — there is something on Page One of many newspapers to remind us of those who passed this way. The headline at the top of The Anniston Star in Alabama says it all: “Area’s fallen veterans remembered,” even as The Morning News in Rogers, Ark., reports that “Residents honor veterans” and The Sun in San Bernardino, Calif., notes “Memory honored.” For the Aurora (Colo.) Sentinel, the story may be on page seven but there is a big Page One photo of a soldier in a uniform that may pre-date us and the tease “Lest we forget,” while the Republican American in Waterbury, Conn., tops its Page One photo with “Saluting America’s fallen” and Highlands Today in Sebring, Fla., reports with story and photos “Veterans garden dedicated” to honor those who served. The Lewiston Tribune in Idaho also uses a photo and story to note “Veterans’ sacrifices honored,” and the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky has a photo and the headline “Honoring the ultimate sacrifice” to tease three inside stories.

For the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, Maine, it’s “A time to pay tribute,” while The Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer says it all in one word, “Remembering.” The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo tells us in photos and words about “A stirring salute.” The lead story in the Valley News in West Lebanon, N.H., is about a bridge being named for a local soldier killed last year in Iraq.

A little research shows that the first Memorial Day may have been observed in Charleston S.C, in 1865, but The Post and Courier in that city carries only a brief tease to a couple of Memorial Day pieces inside. Others claim that the official birthplace of the Memorial Day we know is the village of Boalsburg, Pa. There doesn’t seem to be a daily there, but Boalsburg is close to the town of State College and there is a daily there, one where the staff knows its history. Coverage in the Centre Daily Times includes four Page One photos and a story about the 144th Memorial Day observance. The numbers don’t agree with what we read elsewhere, but we’re not about to quibble.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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May 23, 2008

Today’s standouts: something
special, something different

By Kate Kennedy

Memorable front pages begin this Memorial Day weekend:

China earthquake: The Kansas (Mo.) City Star offered “A wedding album from an epic day” with photos and a description of what happened when the China earthquake struck during a wedding photo shoot.

California wildfires: The San Jose Mercury News incorporated a photo into the top two-thirds of its front page and noted 3,400 acres had burned so far.

Polygamist sect: The Standard-Times of San Angelo, Texas, has done extensive coverage of the removal of more than 450 children from a religious compound in west Texas. It devoted its entire page to the sect and Thursday’s decision by an appeals court that the state had acted illegally.

Following a story: Twin Cities newspapers continue to report on last summer’s collapse of an interstate bridge. Today’s Pioneer Press from St. Paul, Minn., featured a program that is teaching school children about construction, including “Bridge Basics in Kidspeak.”

Memorial Day: The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash., keeps in mind its role as the newspaper of a military community. Today it pictured a high school student paying respects to service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Weekend events: In advance of Sunday’s Indy 500, The Indianapolis Star reported on the “Marketing Muscle” of the IndyCar Series and promoted a 20-page special section.

Summertime travel: Rising gas prices have been in the news almost daily. Today, many newspapers looked at the effect on summer travel. The Green Bay (Wis.) Press-Gazette referred to an online animated editorial cartoon by its cartoonist, Joe Heller. In a “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” feature, The Forum of Fargo, N.D., calculated a cost-effective vacation.

Local news of interest: Can’t beat today’s Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., for local news. It reported that cops pretended to deliver pizza to catch robbery suspects, that a high school yearbook was filled with mistakes and that the local Marines were headed back to Iraq for the third time. And across the bottom of the page, it included the story of nuns who “run off to teach and minister in the circus.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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May 22, 2008

‘Idol’ win rocks hometown
papers; Page One digs ‘Indy’

By John Maynard

“Idol” and “Indy” gobbled up plenty of real estate on today's front pages.

“American Idol,” television's most popular show, crowned Missouri native and Oklahoma resident David Cook as its new champion last night, and his hometown newspapers played it up big. “Cook conquers voters,” was the above-the-fold headline in Tulsa World. “Oklahoma’s new ‘American Idol,’” read a bold headline in The Oklahoman.

“Idol” runner-up David Archuleta, a Murray, Utah, teenager, received some headlines of his own despite losing out on the Fox show. “Murray teen runner-up to David Cook,” lamented The Herald Journal of Logan, Utah. “At the End, Utah’s David Falls Short,” The Salt Lake Tribune declared.

With the “American Idol” audience averaging almost 30 million viewers, it’s not surprising to see these newspapers go big with stories about their hometown heroes. But other papers with no dog in the race also put the story on their front pages, including The Bakersfield Californian with a picture of the happy winner that took up a third of the page.

Meanwhile, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” the latest movie starring the swashbuckling archaeologist, opens in theaters today and plenty of front pages made note. “He's back, with attitude,” wrote the Sioux City (Iowa) Journal leading into a rave review by the newspaper's critic.

Some papers localized the movie's opening. “Archaeologists fond of Indiana Jones” was the headline in The Augusta Chronicle story profiling a Georgia archaeologist who is, well, fond of the movie's hero. But an article in the Johnson City Press had a different angle: “Professor: Glamor of screen role overstated” headlined the story about an East Tennessee State University professor who says an archeologist's life is not nearly as exciting as the movie portrays it.

But then again, the Victoria (Texas) Advocate may inspire teenage boys everywhere to consider a career in archaeology with this headline: “Why Chicks Dig Indy.”

John Maynard is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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May 21, 2008

Page One balances Obama’s
good news, Kennedy’s grim news

By Kate Kennedy

Two significant U.S. stories vied for Page One space after Barack Obama celebrated being “within reach” of the Democratic presidential nomination and the Senate learned that one of its members has a brain tumor.

USA Today, The Washington Post and The New York Times led with the late-Tuesday news that Barack Obama had gained the majority of pledged delegates after Oregon’s primary. All three also reported that Sen. Edward Kennedy has a cancerous brain tumor.

The Los Angeles Times went beyond Tuesday’s primary results to use a news analysis as its lead: “Obama strategy will be tested.” The Times evoked the emotion of the Kennedy story, publishing a photo of Kennedy with family members and a photo of Robert C. Byrd, the only senator who has served longer than Kennedy, crying during a tribute on the Senate floor.

Split wins in presidential primaries: “One big win closer,” The Oregonian of Portland said about Obama in an all-primary front page. The Register-Guard in Eugene noted, “The senator’s victory gives him a commanding lead against Clinton.” The Statesman Journal in Salem, the capital, had an air of excitement, noting Oregon’s role: “State revels in most exciting Democratic race in 40 years.”

From Kentucky, the Lexington Herald-Leader balanced Hillary Clinton’s big win in the state’s primary with Obama’s move closer to the nomination. The Herald-Leader used the Kennedy story at the bottom of its page. The Courier-Journal of Louisville, which printed an eight-page election section, paired photos of Obama and Clinton and said of Clinton’s win: “Ky. gains might not affect nomination.”

To celebrate the delegate milestone, Obama returned to Iowa, site of his first caucus/primary victory. “Obama thanks Iowa, looks to November,” The Des Moines Register said.

Kennedy’s “toughest fight”: Across the top of its page, The Boston Globe said: “Kennedy has malignant tumor; prognosis is uncertain at best.” The Globe, which updated its Web site with reaction, a graphic and comments/discussion shortly after the early Tuesday afternoon announcement about the Massachusetts lawmaker, devoted much of today’s Page One to the news, including a political story and local reaction, as well as a graphic outlining “Medical details” and a story on treatment. An encouraging Boston Herald said: “We’re with you, Ted.”

The Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, Mass., pulled quotes from Kennedy’s congressional colleagues and said of the senator: “Caring, helping always evident.” The Hartford (Conn.) Courant showed Sen. Christopher Dodd — “A close friend takes it hard.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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May 20, 2008

Earthquake in China no longer
big news for the rest of region

By Gene Mater

The earthquake in China still makes it to Page One of some American dailies — you'll find stories and/or pictures on the front of The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and other U.S. newspapers — so we thought that we would check out the front pages of newspapers closer to the scene, which proved to be an interesting exercise.

In China itself, yesterday at 2:28 p.m. — a week after the exact time of the earthquake — the nation observed what the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong called "an emotional three minutes' silence in an unprecedented show of public mourning" — this under a banner reading "The nation mourns" and a photo of rescue workers standing silently on the ruins.

If you check out only one front page from and about China, we suggest looking at The Beijing News, which has a photo of a man holding a flower and the 24-hour clock numbers 14:28. Take a look; we'll wait until you come back.

The Wall Street Journal Asia has a story about "Amid grief, Beijing's strong hand." In Tokyo, The Asahi Shimbun has a photo and two stories, one about the rescue efforts, the other asking "A Sichuan-level quake here: Could Japan cope?" The Chosun Ilbo and The Dong-a Ilbo, both in Seoul, South Korea, may have China in a language we cannot read, but the Page One photos are easy to recognize — Barack Obama with thousands of his supporters in Oregon. And that's where the coverage seems to tail off.

The Star in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, has a small photo and a tease to "Quake victims mourned," inside, even as The Nation in Bangkok, Thailand, teases the story inside with "Aftershocks kill 200." Unless we missed it, the dailies in Australia and New Zealand passed on the quake for Page One, although The New Zealand Herald in Auckland has a big Page One photo and the headline "Obama rocks 75,000-strong crowd" and The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia has a smaller photo and claims "Numbers look fine for Obama," while the Financial Review, also in Sydney, also likes the Obama in Oregon photo.

But all is not lost and there are places where people like to laugh. The Press in faraway Christchurch, New Zealand, passes on the earthquake and skips the Oregon photos, but there is a Page One tease with picture for an inside piece about "Seinfeld 10 years later."

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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May 19, 2008

It’s the economy, and papers want
to be sure you see it as a problem

By Gene Mater

It’s the economy, editors, or so it seems in looking at the U.S. front pages today. Starting with the nation’s biggest daily, USA Today which leads with “Bill for taxpayers swells by trillions,” adding “Deficit far bigger than government estimate,” even as the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser squares off an AP story warning that a survey shows that “Wobbly economy may weaken further” and The Arizona Republic in Phoenix squares off the USA Today story, reporting “Nation’s red ink soared in ’07.”

But it isn’t just the national picture that we’re reading about. The Daily News in Los Angeles leads with “Students paying the price,” about the financial problems of those attending colleges in the area. The Denver Post has an off-lead story about how “In falling economy, teen jobs get scarce” and the Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin reports from a neighboring town that “Plainfield budget squeeze forcing hard choices.”

For the Charlotte (Fla.) Sun, the Page One problem is about “Food stamp recipients pinched by high prices,” while The Atlanta Journal-Constitution leads with “More Atlanta homes at risk” in the mortgage crisis and the Chicago Tribune takes another tack with an off-lead story about “Vehicle repos in high gear.” The Hutchinson (Kan.) News leads with the AP story but puts on a semi-good face with the head: “Forecast for economy has good and bad,” and The Town Talk in Alexandria, La., leads with, “Some local  businesses run up big utility bills,” some of them delinquent.

For the Times Herald in Port Huron, Mich., the focus is on “Carpoolers fight gas prices.” The New Hampshire Union Leader in Manchester has a Page One feature about “Soaring gas prices.” The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal leads with “Insurance trusts’ collapse staggers,” adding that “Nearly 5,000 employers may pay more for workers’ comp,” while The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., has a big Page One piece with photo about “Slow economy has more people turning to auctions to get rid of unwanted, unused goods for cash,” as many other dailies find Page One space for the AP “gloomy forecast.”

The Dayton (Ohio) Daily News tops Page One with what might be a search for the silver lining, reporting that “As bad as things are now, they’re nothing to the great depression.” True, and to those interested we offer our family motto from those days – “damn the expense, give the canary another seed.”

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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May 16, 2008

Sir William Berkeley is rolling over
in his grave at what has happened

By Gene Mater

Sir William Berkeley was governor of Virginia in the long ago, appointed to that post in 1642 by King Charles I.  Sir William must have done other things, but he is best remembered for his remarks in 1671, essentially in favor of keeping the populace in the dark. He wrote:  “I thank God, we have not free schools nor printing; and I hope we shall not have these hundred years. For learning has brought disobedience, and heresy and sects into the world; and printing has divulged them and libels against the government. God keep us from both!”

Times have changed, and we thought we would take a look at today’s front pages in the royal colony of Virginia.

The biggest daily that calls Virginia home is the biggest daily in the nation, USA Today in McLean, which finds space on Page One for a major story for some newspapers – the California Supreme Court striking down the ban on same-sex marriages – but plays up everyone’s “incredible shrinking nest egg” and leads with “Airline fuel cuts concern pilots.”

The Danville Register & Bee manages to fill almost all of Page One with purely local stories, and The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg does much the same, except for the formal opening of the second span of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge near Washington that caused a traffic jam that you and Sir William wouldn’t believe. The Daily Press in Hampton Roads also goes for local news to inform its readers, while Link in the same city gives over Page One to a tease for “10 Weekend Plans” that you will find inside.

The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk whoops up a story that would bother Sir William, about the Virginia Sen. Jim Webb-sponsored “G.I. bill clears first big hurdle,” a bill that includes education.  The Richmond Times-Dispatch is the only daily in the state that leads with “California’s highest court rules gay marriages legal,” while The News Leader in Staunton can’t help tweaking officialdom with “Congestion stems from bridge’s dedication.”

Since West Virginia was part of Virginia in Sir William’s days, we thought we’d look at those dailies as well.  The Charleston Gazette goes local except for a national farm bill story at the bottom of the page and The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington does much the same, while The Dominion in Morgantown finds room for an update on the death toll from China’s earthquake.

We’ll leave it to our faithful readers to decide whether Sir William had a point or two to make.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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May 15, 2008

Look closely, news isn’t
all that’s on the front page

By Bridget Gutierrez

Editors don’t just use the front page to report the day’s most important news, they also use it to promote their product. Mottos, advertising slogans and mission statements all can be found tucked around a newspaper nameplate. The New York Times’ motto, “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” is perhaps the most well-known. Still, the Detroit Free Press’ “ON GUARD FOR 177 YEARS” is no less forthright.

Some editors use the space to declare their paper’s dominance. The Clarion-Ledger is “Mississippi’s No. 1 information source,” while Montana’s Billings Gazette is simply “The Source.” Others focus on their ties to the community. In Vermont, The Burlington Free Press is “A Local Custom.”

A handful of the taglines simply can’t be categorized. Minneapolis’ Star Tribune provides readers with a nugget of information that changes daily, whereas The Indianapolis Star sticks with an old faithful — a quote from the Bible.

Above an image of a fluttering American flag, the New Hampshire Union Leader in Manchester tells us: “There is nothing so powerful as truth.” ‘Nuff said.

Bridget Gutierrez is an exhibits writer for the Newseum.

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May 14, 2008

W.Va. primary: Putting
Clinton’s win in perspective

By Kate Kennedy

As expected, Hillary Clinton won West Virginia’s Democratic primary. With the outcome anticipated, newspapers used today’s front page to try to answer the question: What does it mean?

“Observers still see Obama as nominee,” The Charleston Gazette said. The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington topped its page with an analysis: “Clinton’s big win could be too late.” The Dominion Post of Morgantown printed a McClatchy-Tribune story that began: “… Her late win in a small state likely did little to slow her rival’s march …”

From neighboring Kentucky, which has its primary next week, The Courier-Journal of Louisville said: “Clinton’s W.Va. win too late? Obama gains four more superdelegates.”

“But don’t tell that to Clinton or her supporters,” the Chicago Tribune said in a staff-written story from West Virginia. “Clinton: Race isn’t over,” the Tribune’s main headline said. The Orange County (Calif.) Register called Clinton’s 2-1 defeat of Barack Obama “A home run late in the game” but added “Clinton cruises to a large but likely symbolic win in W.Va.”

In Mississippi, a Democrat won a runoff election for a seat in the U.S. House. “Dem claims 1st District,” The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson said. The Washington Post paired the Mississippi story with its coverage of the West Virginia primary and said in advance of fall elections: “Democratic Victory May Be a Bellwether.”

Natural disasters remained on the front page, and images again proved to be an important part of coverage.

China earthquake: “China faces herculean task” of rescue and recovery, the Los Angeles Times said. It used a haunting four-column photo of a youth trapped in rubble, a photo used by many other U.S. newspapers. The Beijing News pictured a trapped girl reaching out, and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong printed a photo of rescuers finding the bodies of schoolchildren. The Globe and Mail of Toronto used a heartbreaking photo of a rescuer holding the hand of a trapped child.

Florida wildfires: Florida Today in Melbourne photographed a resident “Returning to ashes” after wildfires destroyed homes and forced evacuations. The newspaper also used images to promote video on its Web site and to solicit reader photos.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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May 13, 2008

Wrath of nature makes Page One
in dailies here, there, everywhere

By Gene Mater

The wrath of nature in many forms will be found on today’s front pages — a massive earthquake in China and, closer to home, the rainstorm-flooding near Washington, D.C., and wildfires in Florida, with some references to the continuing problems of the cyclone in Burma.

The earthquake in China leads The New York Times and The Washington Post, but we thought we would look at the dailies near where it happened. The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong carries the banner headline “Thousands perish in quake” with a large Page One photo of the devastation, while The Beijing News in China gives over all of Page One to the earthquake and The Wall Street Journal Asia in Hong Kong tells its readers, “Huge quake rips China, testing leaders.” Hint to all gentle readers looking at dailies in languages they do not understand, look for the photo of the man in the blue shirt among ruins to spot earthquake coverage; he’s on Page One of the China and Hong Kong dailies just listed. He’s also on Page One of Kompas in Jakarta, Indonesia, The Sun in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, United Daily News in Taipei, Taiwan, and The Age in Melbourne, Australia.

The Pacific edition of Stars & Stripes, published in Tokyo, keeps the Burma story alive with the lead about “A humanitarian catastrophe of genuinely epic proportions.”

About that fire, Florida Today in the other Melbourne, the one in Florida, has an attention-grabbing Page One picture with the banner headline “Palm Bay in flames” as the Orlando Sentinel tells it all with a picture and the one-word banner in all-caps: ‘INFERNO.” The Palm Beach Post reports about the “‘Worst nightmare’ in Central Florida” as “Hundreds flee wildfires.”

Finally, and closer to where we sit, The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., reports in photos and stories “Coast thrashed by winds, rain,” the Baltimore edition of The Examiner leads with “Power outages, flooding persist after heavy rain,” adding that “90,000 lose electricity as roads, schools close and motorists are stranded throughout the area,” as The Daily Times in Salisbury, Md., says it succinctly with “Late nor’easter leaves a mess.” The Sun in Baltimore, after telling its readers “Record rain across Maryland brings power outages, closes schools, flood roads, opens a huge sink hole,” leads with “Worst not over, governor warns.”

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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May 12, 2008

Stories of loss follow
trail of violent weather

By Kate Kennedy

The story of tiny Picher, Okla., once a booming mining town, continued its tragic plot as tornadoes hit the northeastern corner of Oklahoma during the weekend.

Severe-weather roundups in newspapers across the U.S. focused on Picher, devastated by a category 4 tornado, and rural Missouri. “Picher toll reaches 7,” said the Tulsa World, which printed two photos — an aerial view of the town and a close-up of two grieving residents.

“Finishing blow to a dying town,” said The Oklahoman, which reported that Picher is “a town torn apart by decades of zinc mining and federal buyouts.”

Picher’s story was picked up elsewhere. The Los Angeles Times printed a five-column photo and said the violent weather was “a final indignity” for a town “that was about to be abandoned under a government buyout program” because of environmental concerns. Said The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post: “It may be death knell for Oklahoma town.” The Danville Register & Bee in rain-soaked Virginia and The Gadsden Times in tornado-prone Alabama were two of many newspapers that used photos from Oklahoma.

The violent weather that hit Oklahoma and Missouri caused damage and death in other states. “More than 20 Killed as Storms Race across U.S.,” The Washington Post said. USA TODAY reported that 2008 is on track to be a record-breaking year for tornadoes. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock and The Anniston Star in Alabama wrote about tornadoes in their areas.

“Mauled by Mother Nature,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said, breaking out damage in metro Atlanta and the impact of a half-dozen tornadoes in Georgia. The Marietta Daily Journal paired state and national roundups, and the Savannah Morning News printed a locally produced story: “Coastal Empire mostly unscathed; southern coast sees heavy damage.”

In Missouri, The Kansas City Star said: “No Safety from Storm.” The Springfield News-Leader pictured what it called resiliency among Missourians and said: “Survivors mourn the dead, pick through remnants of their homes.”

Newspapers outside the stricken areas published an AP report on the storms. The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press used a quote in a sub-headline: “‘I swear I could see cars floating.’” The Houston Chronicle called its weather roundup “stories of loss”: “Between life and death, a matter of minutes.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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May 9, 2008

There’s plenty of news today,
but nothing tops the Oscars

By Gene Mater

This is the kind of day that doesn’t occur all that often, when the abundance of news makes an editor wonder where to put it all. The Oscars, the change-of-sorts of the regime in Cuba, Ralph Nader announcing that he will make still another run at the presidency and the national election with all its good, bad and other developments. Indeed, an early morning call to this desk from an artist on a ship that had just docked in Puerto Rico had questions about the Oscars and nothing about the “real news.”

The Anniston Star in Alabama managed to squeeze them all in on Page One — Oscar pictures and tease to an inside story, a photo of “The new Castro,” noting that “Raul succeeds Fidel as Cuba’s leader,” with details inside and a head shot of Ralph Nader, a reference to “History repeats,” and, again, details on another page. However, the lead story is none of the above, focusing instead on a “60 Minutes” story from last night about the jailed state governor and “Charges allege prosecution was politically motivated.” The Arizona Republic in Phoenix has a sky box above the nameplate teasing the Oscars, the lead is “Nader declares bid amid criticism,” and there is a Page One photo and story about Cuba. The Sentinel-Record in Hot Springs, Ark., has a sky box about the Oscars, a top-of-the-page square-off of the Cuba story and a “Fight for the White House” story down at the bottom. The Denver Post also plays up the Oscars and leads with Cuba, while the New Haven (Conn.) Register gives over much of Page One to the “Magic of Hollywood” while everything else is of local or regional interest.

In Florida, where the Cuban story is of major interest, The Miami Herald has a photo of Raul Castro giving the V-for-victory sign topped with the head “The old guard,” while the off-lead story is about the Oscars. For the Redeye in Chicago, nothing trumps the Oscars, with a photo filling Page One of the tabloid with the head “Oscar bromance,” adding that “Academy shows its love for the Coen brothers — the pair in the picture — who pick up 3 top Oscars.”

Here and there some dailies decided to ignore the Oscars. When the day is done we’re going back to the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska that has whooped up the “Running of the reindeer,” complete with photo and the headline “Antlers away.”`

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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May 8, 2008

College life hits the front pages

By Emily Hedges

As the school year winds down, many college- and university-related stories are making front pages around the country. Some of the topics of front-page stories include:

Money: Mesa, Ariz.'s East Valley Tribune reported that “ASU (Arizona State University) fears its enrollment will fall with budget cuts.” In good financial news, The Morning News (Springdale, Ark.) reports that the University of Arkansas is planning raises for its employees next year.

Students: The Moscow-Pullman (Idaho) Daily News did a personality profile on students who came to local New Saint Andrews College and found their future spouses.

Athletics: The (Tucson) Arizona Daily Star featured a front-page story about a University of Arizona softball player who is making a comeback from a brain injury.

Fraternities: "Reputation of frat is hardly brotherly: Allegations include drugging, sex assaults" at a Tulane fraternity, according to New Orleans's Times-Picayune.

Drugs: The president of San Diego State University is receiving praise and criticism for inviting federal drug agents to try to get undercover information from students about drug use on campus, according to a story in The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Dorms: DeKalb, Ill.'s Daily Chronicle said Northern Illinois University was seeking $7.7 million to remodel a campus dormitory. An 83-year-old women's dormitory at the University of Tennessee saw its last residents move out this week, according to Knoxville's News Sentinel. The building will be renovated and converted into a research lab.

Transportation: The Honolulu Advertiser reported on the addition of a new public transit stop only a short walk from the University of Hawaii-West Oahu, making it more convenient for students to access the campus.

Campus: The main building at Our Lady of the Lake University was destroyed by a fire, according to a front-page story from the San Antonio (Texas) Express-News. A dramatic aerial photo of the burned building tells the story.

Professors: Professors and their crazy commencement wear is the topic of a feature in the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram. Perhaps the most bizarre front-page college reference of the day comes to us in the form of a (Bridgeport) Connecticut Post photo of two community college teachers battling with chicken-shaped piñatas on sticks. No word on how to win the game or what the prize was.

Emily Hedges is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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May 7, 2008

A solid win and a squeaker:
2 primaries produce 2 results

By Kate Kennedy

Drama continued in the presidential campaign Tuesday with heavy voting in North Carolina’s primary and late-night results from Indiana. But in the end, the news was the margin of victory: How close was it?

Two of the country’s larger newspapers summed it up well. “Obama cruises; Clinton clings,” the Los Angeles Times said. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution described the outcome as “His Decisive Win, Her Photo Finish.”

The Charlotte Observer called Barack Obama’s 56% to 42% win in North Carolina lopsided, and the News & Record of Greensboro used the word “rout.” The Winston-Salem Journal’s lead said: “In the end, it wasn’t close.”

“Two minutes after the North Carolina polls closed … networks declared an Obama primary victory,” The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer reported. North Carolina might have been devoid of suspense, but Indiana was a “nail-biter,” as the Journal & Courier of Lafayette noted.

The Indianapolis Star, sporting a “Clinton, Barely” banner headline, featured a column about the drama: “Indiana loved its moment in the spotlight so much it refused to give it up Tuesday night.” The late-night results meant early editions of some newspapers did not pronounce a winner in Indiana.

“Hillary Holds On as Lake Holds Out,” said The Times of Munster, reporting its county’s “snail-slow pace” of election reporting. The South Bend Tribune called it a “Hoosier cliffhanger” and printed at the top of its page Hillary Clinton’s win, 51% to 49%.

“High drama, but no KO,” the Chicago Tribune declared, adding in an analysis: “In the home stretch, advantage to Obama.”

A flood of voters swamped polling places. The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind., noted a “Large turnout for Democrats,” and The Herald-Times in Bloomington, Ind., said, “Voters turn out in droves.” A “record primary turnout” was reported by The Daily Reflector of Greenville, N.C.

Tuesday’s primaries had been called historic because of their impact late in the campaign. History was made in another way. A column in today’s News & Observer in Raleigh highlighted Obama’s win and the victories of female candidates in other races on the ballot in North Carolina, a state “clouded by the era of Jim Crow and a deep skepticism about women’s role in politics.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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May 6, 2008

Numbers make the difference
as cyclone toll makes Page 1

By Gene Mater

Numbers make the difference. Yesterday, when the death toll stood at 350 for the cyclone in Burma (aka Myanmar), a few U.S. dailies carried the story on Page One. Today, with the guesstimated toll in the multiple thousands, it’s Page One news on an international basis.

Starting with The Washington Post, which carries a banner headline “Burma says storm killed 15,000,” and The New York Times, which leads with “Myanmar reels as cyclone toll hits thousands,” we thought that we would play hopscotch with the dailies on our Web site.

The same photo appears at the top of the page of Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin, Germany, with an off-lead story, “Thousands dead after cyclone in Burma,” and the Salzburger Nachrichten in Salzburg, Austria, which refers to 10,000 dead. Prazsky Denik in Prague, Czech Republic, has a small story about the cyclone, while Taxydromos in Volos, Greece, has a picture and a story about 10,000 dead. The Irish Examiner in Cork, Corriere della Sera in Milan, Italy, AD in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and El Periodico in Barcelona, Spain, all play up the cyclone, all refer to 10,000 dead and all carry photos. AD offers a map for those uncertain about where to find Burma. The Guardian in London also leads with the cyclone, with the headline, “Burma seeks emergency aid as cyclone kills at least 10,000” and photo of the devastation.

And in Asia, the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong has as its off-lead “Myanmese cyclone leaves 10,000 dead,” Manila Standard Today in the Philippines has the headline “Cyclone kills 3,969 in Myanmar” above the nameplate, and The Chosun Ilbo in Seoul, South Korea, has a Page One photo. The Nation in Bangkok, Thailand, leads with “Toll to rise by thousands,” and The Wall Street Journal Asia in Hong Kong leads with “Myanmar cyclone kills at least 4,000.” Farther south, The Age in Melbourne, Australia, has a photo topped by “Burma devastated/‘It’s clear that this is a major disaster.’”

Finally, in the Middle East, Gulf News in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has a picture and the lead story “Cyclone toll hits 10,000” and the English-language Iran Daily in Tehran has a Page One piece reporting “Cyclone Nargis kills thousands in Myanmar.”

And is it Myanmar or is it Burma? The U.S. government calls it Burma and so do dailies. In Europe, it’s some form of “Burma” but not Myanmar. An in Asia, it’s either one. When we sing Kipling’s “Road to Mandalay” in the shower it will always be Burma to us.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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May 5, 2008

Wherever Myanmar (aka Burma)
is, editors go for a killer cyclone

By Gene Mater

As we flipped through our collection of U.S. front pages, two things struck us. First, 350 dead in a cyclone is a BIG story to some editors even if it happened in a country that many of our readers never heard of. Second, the “gasoline tax holiday” issue in the U.S. elections is a major item.

The cyclone that killed 350 or more happened in Myanmar, an Asian country that the U.S. State Department and many of us of a certain age prefer to call Burma. Quick, where is Myanmar or Burma? That’s a true gotcha question.

As to the gas-tax holiday, Hillary Clinton has proposed canceling the federal tax on fuel during the summer months, while Barack Obama calls it a “bogus gas tax gimmick.”

The Anniston (Ala.) Star leads with “Cyclone kills hundreds in Myanmar” but takes a pass on the gas tax, while the Scottsdale Tribune in Arizona does it in reverse, with a Page One story about “Clinton, Obama make final pleas to voters,” including the gas tax. The Sentinel-Record in Hot Springs, Ark., says: “Cyclone kills 350+ in Myanmar” but skips the election, while The Herald in Monterey, Calif., gets both stories on Page One, with a map for all to see about where Burma is.

The Aurora (Colo.) Sentinel has a banner headline reporting “Cyclone toll tops 350” and a drop head explaining that “Thousands of homes in Myanmar are destroyed as a powerful cyclone ripped through the nation,” which may get you to turn to Page 9 for the details. The Day in New London, Conn., leads with the Indiana and North Carolina primaries roundup. Just below is “Hundreds are killed by Myanmar cyclone.”

The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times has an election story at the bottom of Page One and nothing about the cyclone, while The Lewiston Tribune in Idaho puts “Obama, Clinton squabble over taxes, policy on Iran” at the top of Page One while giving the cyclone a favored position. The Chicago Tribune leads with “Rivals get grillings on gas, pastor,” as The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind., plays up “Crushing cyclone kills 350 in Myanmar” over the “Hoosier homestretch” voting tomorrow. The Boston Globe leads with the election and “Rivals spar on gas tax,” while teasing to the cyclone story inside. The Albuquerque (N.M.) Journal has “Dems bicker over Iran, gas tax” and no cyclone, but The Blade in Toledo, Ohio, leads with the cyclone as do the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas and The Roanoke Times in Virginia.

At break time, we’re going to read the Page One story in The Sun in San Bernardino, Calif., about the last orange grove in Rialto — and the passing of an era.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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May 2, 2008

On Friday, it’s all about
Saturday and Sunday

By Kate Kennedy

TGIF. Except that Fridays pose a challenge. Should festivals, music performances, sports and other weekend events be promoted on Page One? Contained to a weekend section? Ignored?

The largest and most popular events often are advanced and then covered on Page One of community newspapers.

“What a Weekend!” screamed today’s Indianapolis Star. “There’s a political race, a 13.1-mile footrace and opening day at the Speedway …”

The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post combined a story, photo, info box and reference to video online to promote the three-day music and wine SunFest. The Herald Journal in Spartanburg, S.C., profiled the resident who named the city’s festival Spring Fling. And the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison chronicled 40 years of the Mifflin Street Block Party.

Will leeches suck readers into a story? The Sioux City (Iowa) Journal thought so as it promoted the Great Walleye Weekend (that’s fishing) and reported the scarcity of leeches (bait) because of the late spring.

A stand-alone photo is a common way to advance events. The Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News used the technique for the state aviation trade show. The Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram included “Three reasons not to miss Mayfest” in its expanded cutline.

The Desert Sun in Palm Springs , Calif., used the top of its page to advance a country music event, promising live blogs and photo galleries online.

Images from Robert Downey Jr.’s new superhero flick “Iron Man” appeared on many pages, including the South Florida Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale. RedEye from Chicago divided its page in half for a “Metal Head” illustration.

And what would a weekend be without sports? It’s NASCAR for the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, which provided an eight-page race section inside. And it’s the Derby in Kentucky, where The Courier-Journal of Louisville profiled a past winner and referred to Derby material throughout its print and Web products. A Lexington Herald-Leader illustration combined the Derby with a different kind of a horse race to promote a weekend story: “Tip sheet for candidates if they come to derby.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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May 1, 2008

In stagnant economy,
money matters on Page 1

By Kate Kennedy

How well do newspapers make sense of money news?

A day after the Fed lowered interest rates another quarter percentage point, let’s consider newspapers cited in the general-excellence category of the annual Society of American Business Editors and Writers contest.

“Latest cut may be last for now,” said The Indianapolis Star, which bulleted “What the cut means to you.”

The New York Times combined news of the rate cut with a Commerce Department report on economic growth: “Lower Spending is taking a Toll on the Economy/Growth Held to 0.6%.” The Arizona Republic of Phoenix led with a Christian Science Monitor story on sagging growth: “Grim economy, silver linings/Downturn may last long, but analysts expect it to be mild.” The Boston Globe localized the growth report with information from the University of Massachusetts: “Economy in state outpaces US growth.”

The St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press paired economic stories at the top of its page. “Free food, long line — a sign of the times,” it said about a food giveaway in rural Wisconsin. A second story — “Sellers step back in slow housing market” — centered on the tough Twin Cities housing market. The Detroit News focused on what matters to Michigan, the auto industry: “GM to cut more after $3B loss.”

With rising gas prices and declining home values, economic issues have been a key Page One topic this year. The news continued on other front pages today. “Pain beyond the gas pump” is how the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News titled a package on how business owners pass on to consumers the added expense of gasoline. From ag country, The Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune quoted farmers about rising food prices: “Don’t blame ethanol.” The Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch used arrows to illustrate an “economy just limping along.”

The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal used much of its page to report on federal tax-rebate checks and their potential impact on local counties. The package that included an analysis of IRS and Census data referred to a “Let’s shop local” special section inside, which featured a first-person essay from the local Chamber of Commerce president. In an analysis, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times noted that “the government has done what it can to boost the economy.” It added: “Now it’s your move.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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April 30, 2008

Obama’s breakup tops news

By Patty Rhule

Breaking up is hard to do, especially when the split occurs at the height of your campaign for the presidency.

Sen. Barack Obama’s public distancing from his former pastor was front-page fodder across the country. “Obama’s Achilles’ Heel?” The Bakersfield Californian asked. The New York Post promised a scoop in “BARACK STABBER” with a story that says the Rev. Jeremiah Wright “delights in revenge on ‘traitor’ Obama.” “Test of faith,” pronounced Colorado’s Aurora Sentinel, with a dramatic side-view image of Obama, eyes downcast.

The Chicago Sun-Times filled its tabloid-sized front with a typographical treatment of the story: “What Obama Now Thinks of Rev. Wright: ‘Divisive’ ‘Outrageous’ ‘Appalling’ ‘Objectionable’ ‘Offensive’ ‘Inexcusable.’ ” Teasers promised six more pages of coverage inside on the matter.

The St. Petersburg Times had a gloomy analysis by its political editor, Adam Smith, writing from Indiana: “Obama doomed in small towns.” And in a headline we wish we’d written, the Metro-Boston Edition blared, “Obama declares Wright is wrong.” “Candidate lets down some of N.J. clergy,” wrote Newark, N.J.’s Star-Ledger, in a reaction story from fellow pastors.

But with one candidate’s strife comes another’s opportunity. “Hillary Thrills Hobart,” reported the Post-Tribune in Merrillville, Ind., with a kitchen-table photo of Sen. Hillary Clinton surrounded by voters and cameras.

The news that baseball superstar Roger Clemens, already besieged by accusations that he used steroids, had a relationship with then-under-age country singer Mindy McCready inspired the Nashville Tennessean to do a Page One story on the career crisis for both stars.

In yet another sign of the spasms in the newspaper business, Today’s Local News in San Marcos, Calif., announced in front-page letter to readers that it would go from a Wednesday through Sunday publication to just Wednesday and Sunday, starting May 7.

Patty Rhule is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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April 29, 2008

Obama, pastor make the news
but not in primary states

By Gene Mater

An Associated Press lead puts it this way: “The Rev. Jeremiah Wright is going after his critics on an incendiary tour that is doing his one-time congregant, Barack Obama, little good.” Page One of our local daily, The Washington Post puts it this way, “As minister repeats comments, Obama tries to quiet fray,” and offers some inside pieces, including an editorial about “The audacity of Rev. Wright.” The New York Times has a Page One story, with photo, under the headline “Not speaking for Obama, pastor speaks for himself, at length,” and a column-long sidebar with the jump about “Obama adds to distance from pastor and opinions.”

But what about dailies in the two states where voters will go to the polls next Tuesday, Indiana and North Carolina? Will the stories about Wright be whooped up and possibly hurt Obama? Well, as some comedian put it in the long ago, there we make it different.

We have more than a half-dozen Indiana front pages on our Web site today. Would you believe that only one, The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, has a Page One story about Obama and his former pastor? The bottom-of-the-page piece is labeled “analysis” and carries the clever head “Obama woes: Wright out of the box.” The Indianapolis Star has a small tease for an inside story about Wright. As for the other Indiana newspapers, several play up the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the Indiana voter ID law, a story that leads both The New York Times and The Washington Post, and several have coverage of the Obama-Clinton duel for voters, but not the pastor.

Moving over to North Carolina, we have about a dozen front pages and, again, only one has a Page One piece about Obama and his former pastor. The Winston-Salem Journal has a bottom-of-the page piece with the headline “Impact? Media rounds by pastor may hurt Obama.” Again, one newspaper, The News & Observer in Raleigh has a brief tease to an inside piece about Wright. The other dailies offer Page One coverage of the upcoming primaries and the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Obama, but Wright didn’t make the cut.

No more politics and no more second-guessing the editors. For coffee-break time, we’re going back to The Times in Munster, Ind., which has a story at the bottom of Page One reporting that it is the “fastest-growing newspaper in country,” according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. How did they do that?

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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April 28, 2008

Probable closing of iconic airport
rates limited interest in Germany

By Gene Mater

The people of Berlin, the capital of Germany, went to the polls yesterday to cast their ballots on an emotional issue that has divided the city and has national implications. It was a non-binding, first-ever referendum forced on the city by a public petition to determine the future of a longtime icon of the city — Tempelhof Airport. It has been called the oldest airport in the world and the third largest building in the world, and it may be neither or both. But it always will be remembered as the key hub of the Berlin Airlift, when the Soviet Union blockaded the city and everything — from coal to food — had to come in by U.S., British and French military aircraft to West Berlin from June 24, 1948, to May 12, 1949. Now the airport in downtown Berlin is outmoded, cannot handle today's jet traffic, and should be shut down. Or so the mayor and his coalition say. Only 21% of the 2.4 million eligible voters turned out yesterday, with 25% needed for the vote to count, even in non-binding fashion. Of those who voted, 60% want to keep Tempelhof open.

For Der Tagesspiegel, arguably Berlin’s leading daily, Tempelhof is the story of the day, with a big Page One photo and a headline that says it all: “For most Berliners, Tempelhof is all the same,” meaning the people really don’t care. There also is a sidebar with the headline “In the hangar of history.” For Die Tageszeitung, another Berlin daily, Tempelhof rates a big Page One photo, with words about the campaign having failed and the airport to close in October, all as a tease to stories inside on Pages 21 and 22. The third Berlin daily on our Web site, Die Welt, is a puzzle, with not a word on Page One about Tempelhof, although there are stories on the daily’s Web site.

There are more than a dozen other German dailies on our site this morning, so we thought that we would check them all. We found four of them with some Page One reference to Tempelhof. The Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten, not all that far from Berlin, has a Page One piece about the Babelsberg film studios making plans to move to Tempelhof when the flying days are over. The Suedwest Presse in Ulm has a short piece about “Defeat for the Tempelhof supporters,” while the two Bremen newspapers, the Weser Kurier and the Bremer Nachrichten, have brief Page One stories about the vote.

To close with a note of personal bias: We have flown in and out of Tempelhof a great many times, particularly in the days when propeller planes were the preferred means of travel; it remains our favorite airport in all the world.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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April 25, 2008

Beyond words: Page One
tells stories in photos

By Kate Kennedy

Just call the front page image conscious.

Editors used photos and illustrations today to help tell news, sports, economic and health stories.

The Independent in Helena, Mont., captured a reaction to a guilty verdict in a dominant Page One photo. In Nebraska, the (Neb.)World-Herald documented the concern after an eighth-grader apparently was hit by a stray bullet during a soccer game. And The Washington Post pictured a 20-foot-wide hole — a sinkhole on the busy Interstate 70.

An “accidental tourist” was featured on the San Francisco Chronicle. The wayward gray whale was shown in San Francisco Bay, “posing for pictures along the waterfront.”

A dead man — or so his family thought after he went missing in 2003 — was pictured alive on the front of the Albuquerque (N.M.) Journal. The Detroit News incorporated an old newspaper clipping and current photos with a story about a man who seeks his birth parents 55 years after being abandoned as a baby in a department store.

The Oregonian of Portland inserted a story about the price of rice into a package that contained a photo of a rice bowl, while The Globe and Mail of Toronto had its own view of global food prices.

A sports image made the long jump from the sports section to Page One in The Philadelphia Inquirer, which photographed the Penn Relays. A contender from the U.S. Paralympic team, among those disabled in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is shown on The Denver Post.

While some front pages used news photos, others used photos to illustrate stories. The State in Columbia, S.C., donned a close-up of Kenny Chesney with reverse text appearing in the singer’s cowboy hat. With a nose for news, The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City used photos to illustrate allergy season. And The Forum in Fargo, N.D., used a “Faux News” illustration for a story about U.S. “secret” plans to invade Canada.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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April 24, 2008

Money on your mind?

By Bridget Gutierrez

From pricey school proms in Norwich, Conn., to the cost of gas for car-racing fans in Anniston, Ala., articles on Americans’ financial woes marked today’s front pages.

The Wall Street Journal gave readers a double-dose: The top story focused on the country’s deepening economic crisis, while, just below that, readers learned hard times for restaurants meant “No free sour cream.”

In Los Angeles, the Daily News reported at the top of its page that city budget shortfalls will be “Hitting Angelenos in wallet.” While over in Colorado, The Denver Post gave prominence to a report about big-box grocery stores limiting customer purchases: “As rice gets pricey, stores clamp down.”

Up in Michigan, The Detroit News told families “Student loan plan dropped” because of the poor credit market, while down South there was this stark prediction from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Airline woes likely to push fares up.”

Less prominent but still on the front page: The Chicago Tribune noted that “At $3.75 a gallon, more drivers park it,” and The Miami Herald announced, “Agency for the poor faces financial crisis.”

After seeing all that doom-and-gloom, check out the Las Vegas Sun, where the leading news story, “Buyers sign $30 million deal for topless club,” is curiously juxtaposed with a feature titled, “Through his church a community thrives.”

Bridget Gutierrez is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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April 23, 2008

The beat goes on after
Clinton gets must-win in Pa.

By Kate Kennedy

A margin of 10 percentage points was good enough for front pages to use forceful descriptors of Hillary Clinton’s win in Tuesday’s important Pennsylvania primary.

“Clinton Takes Pennsylvania,” The Washington Post said after the Democrat got 55% of the vote to Barack Obama’s 45%. The New York Times said, “Clinton Clearly Outduels Obama.”

Noting that the win keeps Clinton’s campaign alive, USA Today said, “Clinton boosted by big win.” Today’s headline goes to the Los Angeles Times, which said: “Good night, not goodbye for Clinton.”

From the Keystone State, The Philadelphia Inquirer proclaimed: “A convincing victory, and the race goes on.” Managing Editor Sandra Long said: “We wanted our front page to capture what went on across the state; the excitement and diversity of voters and the unprecedented high voter turnout in the election.”

The Bucks County Courier Times in Levittown used “historic” and “urgent” in describing the primary. “Clinton grinds out must-win,” the Reading Eagle said. Clinton has childhood ties to Scranton, where The Times-Tribune called her win a “Gritty Victory.”

From the state capital, Harrisburg, The Patriot-News devoted most of its page to results. “We stewed over the hed — 10 points was less than a blowout but more than a win — before going with ‘Slam Dunk,’” said David Newhouse, executive editor. “Of course, Obama is the one who plays basketball, but we figured this was better than a whiskey-swigging metaphor.”

Headlines were more tempered in other communities. The Morning Call in Allentown said: “Clinton Wins, But … was her margin of victory … big enough to make a dent in Obama’s delegate lead?” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pictured Obama, saying: “Obama shifts quickly to Indiana, next battleground.”

Analysts have noted that age, gender and race are playing roles in voter decision-making. The Tribune-Review of Greensburg said: “White workers deliver the victory, exit polls show.”

After six weeks in Pennsylvania, the campaigns turn to Indiana and North Carolina, which have May 6 primaries. “It’s Our Turn,” The Indianapolis Star said.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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April 22, 2008

Don’t know about today’s primary?
Look at your local newspaper

By Gene Mater

In towns you’ve never heard of and places you’ve heard of but never visited, readers of the front page have no excuse for not knowing that the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania today is a major political event in selecting the next president of the United States.

There it is, squared-off at the top of the Times Daily in Florence, Ala.: “Clinton seeks Pennsylvania win.” In California, The Bakersfield Californian has “Campaign ’08: Pennsylvania Primary Preview,” with pictures of the two candidates high on Page One, just below a tease for a story on A12 about the “Price of beer brings on tears.” The Spanish-language La Opinion in Los Angeles touts “Elecciones decisivas” with photos of the candidates at the top of the page.

In Little Rock, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette leads with, “Hopefuls make final sweep of Keystone State,” while The Day in New London, Conn., tells its readers that “Clinton steps up the attack on Obama in Pennsylvania.” The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., squares off “Pa.’s Democratic voters take center stage.”

In Florida, The News-Press of Fort Myers reports that “Clinton reaches for Pa. win; Obama says he’ll be close,” and in neighboring Georgia the Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus says that “Clinton fights to catch Obama.” For the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake, Ill., it’s “Clinton reaches for win,” and The Times in Munster, Ind., plays both with “Clinton reaches for primary win; Obama says he will be close.” The Kentucky Enquirer in Fort Mitchell notes that “Clinton, Obama bare their knuckles in Pa.,” the Kennebec Journal in Maine reports Obama saying “Clinton will win primary,” and the Independent Record in Helena, Mont., uses a promotion above the nameplate to tease an inside story about “Clinton, Obama fight over suburban vote in Pennsylvania.” The Telegraph in Nashua, N.H., localizes the vote in faraway Pennsylvania with the headline “Four months later, it’s N.H. version 2.0,” while our friends in McAllen, Texas, have photos of the two candidates almost as part of The Monitor nameplate with the tease, “The End? Hillary’s bid for president may be over if she loses in Pennsylvania.”

In most cases when the two candidates are named, Clinton comes before Obama, so we’re going to ponder whether it’s done alphabetically, or by age, or by sex. The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, Tenn., goes with “Obama, Clinton tout Penn strongholds,” but we’re going to wonder about the others.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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April 21, 2008

Pope’s visit to U.S. is Page 1 news
for some German dailies, not others

By Gene Mater

Pope Benedict XVI has completed his visit to the U.S. That’s Page One news for some American dailies but not for others, for The New York Times but not for The Washington Post (except for a tease). But this is the first German pope in several hundred years — historians are not in agreement about the nationality of at least two of his predecessors — so we wondered how the German-language press in Europe is playing the story.

Starting with the Sueddeutsche Zeitung in Munich — and Munich is the capital of the pope’s home state of Bavaria — there is a big Page One photo of the pope praying at Ground Zero in New York, a caption and a reference to inside coverage. Not far away, in Augsburg, the Augsburger Allgemeine has a brief item noting that “The Pope ends his USA trip,” similar to the Page One treatment in the Neue Westfaelische in Bielefeld, the Braunschweiger Zeitung in Braunschweig — which also has an editorial about the trip — and the Saechsische Zeitung in Dresden. However, the Weser Kurier and the Bremer Nachrichten, both in Bremen, each carries a large Page One photo and story about the pope praying at Ground Zero in New York. The Suedwest Presse in Ulm — home of the tallest cathedral in the world, albeit a Lutheran one — has a photo of the pope at Ground Zero. In Berlin, Die Welt has a big top-of-the-page photo, while Der Tagesspiegel and Die Tageszeitung have nothing about the pope on Page One. The European edition of Stars and Stripes, the daily for U.S. service personnel, fills most of Page One with a photo and the headline ”Pope blesses ground zero,” with story inside on page eight; we thought we would slip this one in because it’s published in Griesheim.

The Austrian press handles the story in much the same way. Cut into its nameplate, the Kurier in Vienna has a picture of the pope with hand outstretched and the headline, “Pope waves goodbye,” with story on page six. The Salzburger Nachrichten in Salzburg has a brief Page One story with details on page seven, while Die Presse in Vienna has nothing on Page One about the pope.

Yesterday was a big sports day in Europe, which to some editors is what Monday’s Page One is all about.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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April 18, 2008

Papal Mass a bit of heaven;
earthly sins discussed in private

By Kate Kennedy

“Prayers, public and private” appeared on Page One a day after Pope Benedict XVI said Mass at Washington Nationals’ stadium and talked privately with victims of priest sexual abuse.

The Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal used one of a host of photos available from the Mass. The Denver Post pictured “Faces in the Crowd,” and The Bradenton (Fla.) Herald pictured three views. The Daily Herald of suburban Chicago matched its colorful photo with a bright headline: “Sermon on the mound.” The Star Tribune of Minneapolis summed up the excitement: “For Catholics, a bit of heaven.”

“45,000 united by one man,” the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle said. Yet, coverage of the spiritual leader of more than 1 billion people worldwide and news about priest sex abuse, a story that had national impact, did not appear on front pages in some places.

The Times-Picayune of New Orleans noted the “landmark meeting” about abuse, saying: “Benedict makes issue centerpiece of his visit.” The five who met privately with Benedict came from Massachusetts, where the Globe said: “Tears, prayers as pope meets with abuse victims from Boston.” The Globe’s story was written by religion writer Michael Paulson, who has been blogging the visit.

Other front pages offered local angles. Several, including the Press-Register of Mobile, Ala., reported on those who attended Thursday’s events: “Mobilians moved by sight of pope.” The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle focused on Benedict’s comments on education and included a sidebar on Catholic schools.

“Next Stop: NY,” announced Newsday on Long Island. The Advance in Stamford, Conn., pictured two young men who will serve as altar servers. The Journal News of Westchester County, which has had excellent advance coverage by religion reporter Gary Stern, used a graphic to explain “Pope’s busy schedule.” The New York Times reported Benedict’s meeting with sexual-abuse victims in its lefthand column but put photos and other coverage inside.

Flashback: Today’s Oshkosh Northwestern takes a step back in time — to 1934 — to report on the filming of Universal Studio’s “Public Enemies” in the Wisconsin city. “Downtown Shoot Out,” blares the banner headline on the black-and-white page. Below, a photo shows Johnny Depp as John Dillinger in a bank-robbery scene.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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April 17, 2008

All the news that’s
fit to print barely fits

By Kate Kennedy

The front page is only so big, yet today’s pages managed to make room for three significant stories — the first full day of the pope’s U.S. visit, a Democratic debate and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding execution by lethal injection.

Which story took the lead depended upon proximity.

In Washington, Pope Benedict XVI appeared at the White House and addressed American cardinals. The Washington Post pictured Benedict in a sea of well-wishers and digital cameras: “Multitudes Gather for a Glimpse Or, Perhaps, a Touch of the Hand.” The Examiner of Washington focused on his speech at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception: “Benedict: Child sex scandal ‘badly handled.’”

In Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama participated in the 21st debate of the presidential campaign. The Inquirer described “A Bitter Aftertaste” and, in an analysis, said, “Obama had the tougher night.” The Philadelphia Daily News pictured smiling candidates and asked: “Who’ll have the Last Laugh?”

USA Today reported that several states are ready to resume executions after a Supreme Court decision upholding lethal injection. In one of them, Texas, the Houston Chronicle said: “6 from area likely among first to die.” The case originated in Kentucky, where The Courier-Journal of Louisville said, “Court: Punishment isn’t cruel, unusual.” The Tennessean of Nashville broke out “What Happened,” “Tenn. Impact” and “What’s Next.”

The Chicago Tribune managed to feature today’s three big stories — and make room for an enterprise story after the newspaper tested local water and found drugs and chemicals.

But no story offered as much color as Pope Benedict’s Washington events, which continue today. The Boston Globe called it “pomp and substance,” and The Orange County (Calif.) Register said, “Revelry, Reproach.” Benedict’s 81st birthday was noted in La Repubblica in Rome, and a photo with President Bush appeared on Die Welt in the pope’s native Germany. The Providence (R.I.) Journal wrote about its bishop’s surreal experience at the papal gathering. The Religion Newswriters Association estimates that 500 people across the U.S. write about religion in the general news media. Among them is Ann Rodgers, who broke from the pack in her reporting for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Pope wants a spark / Tells U.S. bishops to make Masses lively to keep flock.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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April 16, 2008

Pope's visit is news across U.S.;
a year later, we remember Va. Tech

By Emily Hedges

From Oregon to Florida and Texas to Maine, Pope Benedict XVI's first visit to the U.S. was a natural choice for large front-page photos and stories. Cleveland's Plain Dealer even put a photo of the pope and President Bush above its nameplate. The Anniston (Ala.) Star also showed the pope with the president and gave readers a front-page itinerary for the pope's six-day visit.

Pope Benedict's message on the priest sex scandal was on many front pages. The Citizens’ Voice (Wilkes-Barre , Pa.) quoted the pope in its headline, "Pope 'Deeply Ashamed.'" Eugene, Ore.'s Register-Guard used alliteration to get the message across with "Pope decries pedophile priests."

Even though the pope's visit is confined to two East Coast cities, Tucson's Arizona Daily Star provided local context with the story "Tucsonans are thrilled by chance to see pope." Madison's Wisconsin State Journal allowed readers to see the pope's view, in his own words, on issues such as Iraq, abortion and redemption.

The U.S.'s Spanish-language press, including Hoy in New York and El Nuevo Herald in Miami, gave the pope a lot of room on the front page. Yet the papal arrival wasn’t a universal front-page choice for dailies.

Creative headlines were scarce (perhaps the subject seemed too sacred?), but Los Angeles's Daily News gave us "The Pontiff Has Landed," and the Aurora (Colo.) Sentinel said the pope's first day was punctuated by "Amens and amends."

We would be remiss if we did not pause to remember the first anniversary of the deadly shootings at Virginia Tech. The story dominated the front page for several Virginia papers. The Roanoke (Va.) Times, which published a special section on Sunday, used the headline "We remember" and listed the names of the victims on the front page. The Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch put the victims' names above the nameplate with "4.16.07" in bold. Hampton Roads, Va.'s Link had a remembrance-ribbon illustration, in the Hokies' maroon and burnt orange.

Newspapers in other parts of the nation also remembered. The Times Union (Albany, N.Y.) and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale used the anniversary as a platform to discuss increased campus security. The Times Union included a touching picture of a mourner at the Virginia Tech memorial.

Emily Hedges is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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April 15, 2008

Do newspapers offer food
for thought on local issues?

By Gene Mater

We read an interesting story yesterday about a commission that will be established to analyze whether people are getting the local news they need from newspapers and television stations to make decisions in their communities. Except for the unfortunate suggestion that government action might be proposed to cover broadcasting, it’s a study that sounds worthwhile. We decided to check a few dailies, including in capital cities, to see what local or state news makes Page One.

The Arizona Republic in Phoenix squares off a story claiming “Ariz. deportation policy a model,” a political issue these days, and also has a piece about how “Campaign 2008 gives students real-life lessons.” The Arkansas Democrat Gazette in Little Rock leads with problems of the homeless after February twisters. The Denver Post leads with the labor problems of area agricultural growers and shippers, while the Hartford (Conn.) Courant plays up several local stories on Page One, including who pays the most state income tax. The Tallahassee Democrat in Florida really fits the bill with stories about a tax commission rejecting revenue limits, new fees for parks, arts funding problems and health-care solutions.

The merger of Delta and Northwest airlines is played up in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution because it is a local story, as it is for The Cincinnati Enquirer and St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press.

For The State Journal Register in Springfield, Ill., the big story is that city population tops 120,000, coupled with a push for a water-rate hike. The Advocate in Baton Rouge, La., also is replete with state news — a bill to limit phoning while driving, high river-level problems, parking scarcity near the Capitol, and so on. The Nevada Appeal in Carson City tops Page One with, “Leaner public safety question could go on ballot,” and reports, “Sheep to protect city from wildfires.” The Santa Fe New Mexican leads with, “Councilors weigh in on police plan,” and the Statesman Journal in Salem, Ore., has a story about dead geese raising alarms with the hope that labs will find an explanation. The State in Columbia, S.C., is another daily with local issues topping the day — “Staffing, salaries worry city leaders” leads, with “DUI law sets sobering new penalties” the off-lead.

Yes, there are local issues being covered that give local readers food for thought.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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April 14, 2008

Just because television plays up
election doesn’t mean it’s news

By Gene Mater

With the broadcast news divisions and cable news networks spending part of the weekend whooping up the Clinton-Obama contretemps over voter attitudes in advance of the important Pennsylvania and Indiana primaries, we thought that it would be worth checking the dailies in those states to see whether they thought it was a BIG story. The simple answer is yes and no.

Starting with Pennsylvania, The Intelligencer in Doylestown plays up “Bill Clinton comes calling,” with pictures and teases to election stories inside, including one that we were looking for, while The Philadelphia Inquirer has as the off-lead story “Obama goes on the offensive,” complaining about Hillary Clinton calling him “elitist.” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette squares off “Democrats quizzed on God, faith,” which is right on target,” even as The Times-Tribune in Scranton plays up “Clinton stays on offensive,” adding “In local stop, senator calls Obama remarks on guns, religion ‘elitist.’” The Citizens’ Voice in Wilkes-Barre gives over almost all of Page One to the election, with a photo of Clinton meeting the people in West Scranton while slamming Obama, as the York Daily Record reports on Clinton and Obama visiting Messiah College.

But the Philadelphia Daily News, the Reading Eagle, the Pocono Record and the Williamsport Sun-Gazette find no Page One space available for the Clinton-Obama fracas, although the last-named daily does have a state election story at the bottom.

In Indiana, it’s also no and yes. The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne squares off “Decatur quickly preps for Clinton visit.” The Indianapolis Star teases two primary election stories way down at the bottom of the page, as does the Post-Tribune in Merrillville with its one inside piece. The nothing re the primary on Page One list includes The Herald-Times in Bloomington, the Kokomo Tribune, the Chronicle-Tribune in Marion and the South Bend Tribune. We’ll give partial credit to the Journal & Courier in Lafayette for a major piece on “New rural election centers may create problems for some voters in county.” Well, it is about the election.

Now we’re going to ponder the earthshaking news we watched on the telly yesterday.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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April 11, 2008

Slovak newspapers use few
words to make a statement

By Kate Kennedy

The power of the newspaper front page was tested today in Europe, where main newspapers in Slovakia used blank pages and editorials to protest a new media law.

Journalists say the law violates freedom of the press and editorial independence. Slovakia’s cultural minister says the law guarantees accuracy. Leading Slovak daily SME from Bratislava left its page blank, except for an editorial. The page had a black “funeral frame.” To journalists, press freedom is black-and-white.

In the United States, the Houston Chronicle also gave special treatment to an important story. During a week that President Bush announced an indefinite suspension of troop withdrawals from Iraq, the Chronicle marked “A Somber Milestone” when the “Area’s War Toll Reaches 100.” The Chronicle printed the 100 names of men and women who “sought to serve and gave lives doing so.”

Bush also announced Thursday that combat tours would be reduced to 12 months. The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., pictured a military family and said: “Bush promises shorter Iraq tours for troops.” The Orange County (Calif.) Register included comments from presidential candidates.

As the one-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings approaches, news of a settlement for families of victims was reported by The Washington Post and the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch. USA Today used its cover-story space to report that “For families and survivors, grief becomes call to action.” The Roanoke (Va.) Times, which covered the shootings extensively, plans a special section in Sunday’s newspaper.

The Washington Post also pictured the Newseum and noted today’s opening.

Is that the front page or the sports page? The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle looks like it has Mastered coverage of the men’s golf championship. Scores from the first round were printed above the nameplate, and the entire page was devoted to The Masters. In another golfing hot spot, Florida, The Palm Beach Post used an image of Arnold Palmer hitting an honorary first tee shot as its dominant photo.

It was another sport that made the cover of the New York Post. “Curses!” said the Post, which pictured a Red Sox T-shirt and reported that a construction worker had buried a Boston T-shirt under a concrete slab in the visitors’ clubhouse at the new Yankee Stadium.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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April 10, 2008

Olympic torch zigzags;
airline passengers zapped

By Kate Kennedy

The headline for Wednesday: A change in plans.

Protesters and spectators gathered in San Francisco for the appearance of the Olympic torch, but they were met with a detour. The Chronicle called it a “Tortuous Journey” as the torch was rerouted through the city because of protests over China’s human-rights policy and Tibet independence. The Chronicle paired conflicting images of the day: a torch runner flashing the peace sign and pro- and anti-China protesters arguing toe to toe.

The San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News called it a “Torch shell game” and, like the Chronicle, mapped the announced route and the actual route. The Toronto Star noted that the torch disappeared for a half-hour and called it a “bizarre game of hide-and-seek.”

Headline writers creatively summarized the story. San Francisco Examiner: “City scorches torch activists.” St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times: “Olympic torch zigs, protesters zag.” The Kansas City (Mo.) Star: “The passing of the torch has its problems.”

First Amendment freedoms were represented on Page One — from freedom of speech in San Francisco to freedom of assembly in the form of school protests reported by the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal and the Connecticut Post in Bridgeport. It was freedom of the press in The Star Press of Muncie, Ind., which noted that an elections official was jailed after attacking a reporter covering an election board.

Unfortunately, travelers were not free to fly about the country.

“With plans up in the air, fliers’ frustrations rise,” The Dallas Morning News said after American Airlines cancelled 1,000 flights so it could re-inspect planes. The Star-Telegram pictured the inspection of wiring by the Fort Worth-based airline and broke out: “How much will this cost the airline?” and “What to do if you’re traveling soon.” O’Hare was disrupted, and the Chicago Tribune led with “Airline’s travelers hit hard.”

In the American hub of St. Louis, Mo., the Post-Dispatch pictured two grounded fliers and offered news-you-can-use for consumers. El Nuevo Día in San Juan, Puerto Rico — another busy American location — showed weary travelers. “Traveling by air?” The Seattle Times asked, “Good luck getting there.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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April 9, 2008

The general and his inquisitors
top front pages

By Patty Rhule

Many front pages today pitted photos of Iraq war commander Gen. David Petraeus against the three people vying to be his next commander-in-chief.

“Petraeus wants more time,” said The Birmingham (Ala.) News, reporting on the general’s testimony before Congress on Tuesday. The general faced a skeptical-looking Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain with “the general’s response” opposite “the candidates’ comments.”

The Bakersfield Californian had Petraeus’s image as the backdrop to the newspaper’s nameplate, with the pullout quote, “I certainly share the frustration” and the headline, “Entrenched?”

Stately packaging and insight marked Nebraska’s Omaha World-Herald front page, with “The candidates and the commander” and “After the surge, a pause.” “Petraeus, Democrats square off,” said the Los Angeles Times. “Progress in Iraq fragile,” The San Diego (Calif.) Union-Tribune said. “Petraeus: Stay put,” said the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, adding, “Three White House hopefuls make rare return to Senate, sound off at hearing on Iraq war.”

For the people most affected by the debate, Stars and Stripes MidEast edition led with “Petraeus: After ‘surge’ ends, no reductions.”

Back inside the Beltway, The Washington Times used candid images of the candidates with the analytic sidebar headlined, “Presidential candidates hear what they want to hear.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution put the candidates’ questions with the general’s responses to them in a helpful Page One package. “Too Weak to Leave,” said the tough-talking Dodge City (Kan.) Daily Globe, referring to Iraq’s fragile state. In Shreveport, La., The Times was a bit more upbeat with “Gen. Petraeus: … It is Worth It.”

A teary moment for President Bush, as he presented a posthumous Medal of Honor to the mother of a Navy SEAL who dived on a grenade in Iraq to save his comrades, made news. For The Orange County (Calif.) Register, “Courage and Tears,” was a local story, as SEAL Michael Monsoor was from Garden Grove.

Patty Rhule is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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April 8, 2008

Olympic torch trouble in Paris
makes some European front pages

By Gene Mater

As we started to look at the U.S. front pages this morning and found much coverage of the Olympic torch relay in Paris beleaguered by protests against host China and its activities in Tibet, we thought that we would check out the European reporting of the fracas. The coverage is there, albeit spottier than we anticipated.

We’re not here to second-guess our colleagues, but the one Paris front page we saw, La Tribune, a business daily, had other stories for Page One, while the European edition of The Wall Street Journal published in Brussels, Belgium, felt the violence was worth a Page One photo and story about “Torch protests in Europe anger Chinese globally.”

The Kleine Zeitung in Graz, Austria, has a riot-type photo of Paris police in action taking up most of Page One with stories on pages six to eight. De Morgen in Brussels, Belgium, also goes for the police photo and starts the story on Page One, while Hospodarske Noviny in Prague, Czech Republic, has three pictures and a story. In Germany, from Der Taggespiegel in Berlin to the regional Heilbronner Stimme in Heilbronn there are photos and stories about the Olympic torch going out in Paris. Nepszabadsag in Budapest has a Page One photo below the fold with the unmistakable Eiffel Tower showing up clearly. In Italy, it’s big news, with pictures, from Corriere della Sera in Milan to La Stampa in Torino. The Basler Zeitung in Basel, Switzerland, and AD in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, used the same photo of the relay runner with one hand on his head and the other holding an empty torch. The Swiss editor labeled the picture “Torch without a flame,” but it sounds better in German. Gazeta Wyborcza in Warsaw, Poland, whoops up the story as does SME in Bratislava, Slovakia, while El Mundo in Madrid, Spain, plays the story at the bottom of the page.

As for the mother country, the “unlawful killing” verdict about the death of Princess Diana came in yesterday and nothing can trump a good story about the royal family, which tops the news in the London dailies.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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April 7, 2008

Are there any news?
Well yes, no and maybe

By Gene Mater

In the long ago we worked in a newsroom where the boss would come in every morning and ask “Are there any news?” to which the accepted reply was “No, there are not a single new.” That’s the way we felt this morning when we looked at today’s dailies on our desk, struck only by a typo — an unusual occurrence — in a headline on Page One of The New York Times (“When Foreigners by the Factory: 2 Towns, Opposite Paths.”) So we looked at dailies we don’t read too often to see if “there are any news” besides the election, the war in Iraq and the economic situation.

The Dothan (Ala.) Eagle squares off “Attack kills three U.S. troops, wound 31,” and leads with “Depression-era work program made an impact,” while The Morning News in Bentonville, Ark., leads with a local killing, plays up the economy cutting college scholarships and notes that the state Senate is less unified. The Sun in San Bernardino, Calif., also plays up area news, squaring-off “Casinos hit jackpot,” reporting how gambling places owned by Southern California American Indian tribes are doing well. The Fort Collins Coloradoan plays up a plan for a reservoir that would restock the trout supply and get rid of “invaders,” and the Republican American in Waterbury, Conn., focuses on proposed crime legislation, noting that “Three-strikes bill likely to be hot campaign issue in next election.”

The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla., goes with the war, leading with “4 U.S. Soldiers Killed in Iraq,” and The Valdosta (Ga.) Daily Times reports “No Iraq progress,” while the Mattoon Journal Gazette in Illinois plays up another national story “Study: Medicine mix-ups hurt about 1 in 15 hospitalized kids.” The Porter County Post-Tribune in Merrillville, Ind., goes for the election, reporting “Chelsea stumps for mom at rally in East Chicago” and pointing out “Indiana key in presidential primary.” The Times-Republican out in Marshalltown, Iowa, finds Page One space for two international stories — Iraq and the meeting of Bush and Putin. We were a little puzzled by the Daily World in Opelousas, La., Page One story about “Trash for roads debated,” while The Telegraph in Nashua, N.H., has a similar Page One story that “Trash cash could fix town’s potholes,” both meaning that handling trash from other areas could provide money for roads.

The Forum in Fargo, N.D., has an all-caps head offering the rhetorical question “SAY IT AIN’T SNOW” with a Page One photo to prove that it is.

We’re not beaten. We’ll check again tomorrow to see if there are any news.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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April 4, 2008

Have we been to the mountaintop?

By Bridget Gutierrez

The 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination was marked by front-page centerpiece packages and lead news stories throughout the U.S. today — from the tiny Erie (Penn.) Times-News to The Seattle Times.

Many of the country’s largest newspapers, however, had nary a mention on their front pages of one of the 20th century’s most shocking crimes — which not only took down a vaunted Civil Rights leader but also touched off fierce rioting. Perhaps some editors didn’t think that a 40th anniversary had as nice a ring as say, the 45th.

Either way, smaller papers clearly took the lead on the story today with many offering innovative front-page graphics, online extras and localized articles. Standard reflection-type pieces were well represented, but there also was new news to report: The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., topped its front page with an exclusive article about King contemporaries who want a re-examination of the murder.

While many designers used historic black-and-white photographs to pair with the copy, a few bucked the trend. The Repository in Canton, Ohio, designed an interesting photo collage for a package that dominated its front, while the Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin used a colorful photo illustration.

The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., where King was slain on April 4, 1968, may have summed up the anniversary best with a classic-looking, full-page design and the heart-stopping headline: “WE REMEMBER.”

Bridget Gutierrez is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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April 3, 2008

Spring has sprung; newspapers
going to the animals

By Emily Hedges

Spring is in the air! Several front pages noticed the warming weather and blooming flowers. Monterey, Calif.'s Herald said, "Spring Hues: Wildflowers are out … you just have to look," and the front page has five pictures of the brightly colored flowers to prove it. The Rockford (Ill.) Register Star asked, "Is it finally spring?" and gave 10 ideas for enjoying the great outdoors in spring, including kite-flying and watching Cubs games. The News Journal (Wilmington, Del.) used a picture of spring lilies being watered to go along with a story about a program that finds jobs for special-needs adolescents. The Gazette in Colorado Springs had a slightly different take to the season. The headline read, "Spring forward, but don't fall back"; the story was about mountain climbing in the warmer conditions.

The spring fever has us all feeling a little like zoo animals — wild, yet penned up at the great indoors of our workplaces. Front-page editors must be feeling the same way, as several featured animals on their front pages today. The Record Searchlight (Redding, Calif.) showed a picture of a black bear climbing a tree in a residential neighborhood. San Luis Obispo, Calif.'s Tribune showed a cow crossing the road, right next to a well-placed cow-crossing sign. The Santa Barbara (Calif.) News-Press featured a photo from the relocation of an elephant seal pup.

California front-page editors weren't the only wild animals out there. Levittown, Pa.'s Bucks County Courier Times selected a silhouetted photo of horses on the prairie for its front page. The New Haven (Conn.) Register also featured a horse photo out front; restored carousel horses are being put into place on the outdoor carousel just in time for spring. The Reading (Pa.) Eagle featured a cute piglet in front of the Capitol for a story on spending titled, "Where's the pork?" Spartanburg, S.C., had a circus coming to town and showed the elephants on its Herald Journal's front page.

Last but not least, spring chicks and bunnies "peeped" out from around the name plate of the Carroll County Times (Westminster, Md.). Photos from the local arts center's "Peep Show" — featuring art created from the marshmallowy Easter Peeps — reminded us of spring and animals, and made us want to drive up to Westminster to see the show. Preferably with the windows down to take in the fresh, spring air!

Emily Hedges is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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April 2, 2008

Page 1 gets a lot of mileage from
oil execs’ congressional testimony

By Kate Kennedy

“It’s not our fault.” “Don’t blame us.”

Headline writers focused on blame in summarizing oil executives’ comments about rising fuel prices and record oil-company profits.

The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer used a trading-card treatment to illustrate news about the executives’ testimony before a House committee. The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle of Cheyenne used photos of the executives from large U.S. oil companies and their company logos. The St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press broke out dollar figures.

The story appeared on front pages in states that produce oil, although it was absent from Page One in the country’s largest newspapers. “Oil profits under attack,” said The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif., noting criticism from Congress. “Big oil cashing in, but not middlemen,” the Waco (Texas) Tribune-Herald said. The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, La., led with the story from Washington and invited readers to “Talk Back” in the chat section of its Web site.

“More fuel for the fire,” the Beaver County (Pa.) Times said in an economic package that included stories on oil execs, truckers, natural gas and building.

In what The Forum of Fargo, N.D., called “Diesel Distress,” truck drivers across the U.S. are protesting high fuel prices. That story appeared on front pages from Portsmouth, N.H., to Carson City, Nev. “Squeezed truckers rebel,” the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times said. The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch used a stand-alone photo. Its caption: “The truck stops here.”

News from Zimbabwe reached the front page of the largest U.S. newspapers three days after longtime President Robert Mugabe apparently lost the presidential election. “Mugabe’s rival claims victory in Zimbabwe,” the Chicago Tribune said. From Africa, The Namibian of Windhoek quoted sources as saying the president was ready to step down: “Mugabe on brink.”

Today’s photo: Many, many news photos are available each day. Occasionally, one jumps out. Today, the Los Angeles Times pictured President Bush kissing the wife of the Ukrainian president farewell as Laura Bush holds on. The Chicago Tribune couldn’t help but say: “We’ll always have NATO.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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April 1, 2008

All joking aside, Page One gives
only passing nod to day of pranks

By Kate Kennedy

A serious question on this April Fool’s Day: Is anyone having fun?

From the look of some of today’s front pages, you might not think so.

“Best to pick the spots for a fool’s finest hour,” the Times Union of Albany, N.Y., said, adding that our culture just “can’t take a joke like we used to.” The Milwaukee (Wis.) Journal Sentinel cautioned: “April Fools’ tomfoolery in the workplace can be funny, but should be safe, legal.” And The San Diego (Calif.) Union-Tribune opted to add a scientific spin: “Pranks just might benefit their targets.”

Thank goodness for The Hutchinson (Kan.) News. Without it, front pages would be sans whoopee cushion. And there was vindication in Youngstown, Ohio, where The Vindicator recapped the “Greatest Pranks Throughout History.”

The opening of baseball season is too early to say that any team is a joke, especially in Major League cities where expectations are high. “The Fun Begins!” proclaimed the Detroit Free Press. “Having a ball,” said the South Florida Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, which used a photo, highlighted the Mets-Marlins score and referred to baseball content inside and online.

It may seem a little loony, but a bird was pictured at the top of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. Turns out a teacher left her fortune — $1.8 million — to help protect the loon, Minnesota’s state bird.

On a serious note … Presidential candidate John McCain was “Revisiting His Roots,” the Sun Herald of Biloxi said in describing the Republican’s weeklong biography tour and his first stop in Mississippi.

In what The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash., called “An attempt to boost morale,” the Army is allowing married couples to live and sleep together in the war zone in Iraq. Headline writers went to work. “Together in sickness, health — and war,” The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk said. “To have and to hold … in Iraq,” The Day of New London, Conn., said.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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March 31, 2008

Violence in Iraq, cholesterol drug
test failures are on Page One

By Gene Mater

Violence in Iraq and the apparent failure of a popular anti-cholesterol drug were prime candidates for Page One play today — sometimes one, sometimes the other and sometimes both.

The New York Times, the nation’s newspaper of record, leads with Iraq and a one-column headline: “Cleric suspends battle in Basra by Shiite militia,” and teases to “Doubt about cholesterol drugs” in the business section. The Washington Post leads with “Sadr tells his militia to cease hostilities,” while whooping up the Nationals’ baseball victory over the Atlanta Braves.

In Alabama, The Gadsden Times skips Iraq to play up “Study: Vytorin, Zetia fail to aid heart health.” The Arizona Republic in Phoenix plays up “Iraqi cleric calls for a cease-fire” and “Vytorin performs poorly in key study.” The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock leads with “Al-Sadr calls off Shiite fighters,” and the Los Angeles Times leads with “Iraqi cleric orders end to fighting” and teases the inside story about the cholesterol drugs.

In Connecticut, The Day in New London reports “Study discredits use of cholesterol drug Vytorin” but gives prime space to “A dam nuisance” caused by beavers. The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., leads with “Al-Sadr calls for end to violence,” and The Christian Science Monitor in Boston cautiously reports that “Sadr sends mixed signals.” The Chicago Tribune leads with “Iraqi cleric offers truce,” and The Truth in Elkhart, Ind., tells its readers that “Cleric recalls fighters” and the Lincoln Journal Star in Nebraska plays it the same way. In Corvallis, Ore., on Page One of the Gazette-Times you will find both stories — “Al-Sadr orders ceasefire in Iraq” and “Study results cast doubt on alleged heart benefits of cholesterol drug.”

But at lunch break today we’re going back to The Birmingham (Ala.) News to read the BIG Page One story reporting that “Teens say baggy pants ban would hit below belt.” We never understood those sagging slacks; maybe this story will help.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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March 28, 2008

Baghdad, brawling and a hoaxer
fill front pages

By Patty Rhule

Violence in Baghdad’s U.S.-protected Green Zone topped front pages in many newspapers.

In Monterey, Calif., The Herald’s editors put the story in the lead position, with the headline, “Iraqi PM vows fight to the end in Basra,” and an arresting photo of a Shiite woman wearing a photo of a radical cleric on her veil.

“Baghdad, Basra on fire — Bush upbeat in speech,” the San Francisco Chronicle said. The Orange County (Calif.) Register deemed it one of “6 must-read stories you’ll find inside today’s paper,” with a photo of the prime minister and his “Vow to restore order.” “Barrage rocks Green Zone,” reported the Wilmington, Del., News Journal.

An all-too-frequent image of mourning Iraqi parents topped The Day in New London, Conn., with “Al-Maliki Vows Fight to the End.” “Iraqi leader cracks down on militants,” The Miami Herald said. The Idaho Statesman in Boise offered some perspective with an AP story headlined, “Iraqi premier plays for big stakes in Shiite showdown.”

In Redding, Calif., the FBI’s announcement that a contractor kidnapped in Iraq was dead was a local story. “Munns’ death confirmed/Anderson man one of four kidnapped workers ID’d,” the Record Searchlight said.

An AP story about organized extreme fighting among the grade-school set raised editorial hackles across the country. “Midwest sees rise of kiddie combat,” reported the Aurora (Colo.) Sentinel, with photos of brawling youngsters.

In media news, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post had a story about the local man who duped the Los Angeles Times by providing the newspaper with fake FBI documents about the death of rapper Tupac Shakur. The Times apologized for the story on Thursday.

Patty Rhule is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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March 27, 2008

From Albany to Sacramento,
capitalizing on state news

By Kate Kennedy

State capitals are the home to legislatures, politics and debate, and today’s front pages from U.S. capital cities show all three.

“Legislature gives formal apology for slavery in Florida,” the Tallahassee Democrat said. Legislative action also made news elsewhere. The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette reported on a clause in a bill that increased legislators’ salaries: “Lawmakers to collect per diem back pay.” The Times Union in Albany, N.Y., noted “Tenure clash over tests,” a fight between lawmakers and school officials over teacher tenure.

The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., used a photo illustration to report on deadlines for legislative measures on casinos, Medicaid and school supplies. “Lawmakers play beat the clock,” it said.

From Pennsylvania, The Patriot-News of Harrisburg devoted much of its page to a tentative deal in a teachers strike. At the bottom of its page, it noted that the governor had dropped a proposal to give the state’s poor rebates.

Money matters were on minds in other state capitals, too. The Providence Journal led with “The Budget Battle,” as Rhode Island faces the largest budget deficit in two decades. California also faces a deficit, and The Sacramento Bee quoted Arnold Schwarzenegger: “Governor won’t pin deficit on migrants.” But there was good economic news for the downtown in Utah’s capital, where The Salt Lake Tribune said: “Big plans: SLC in for extreme makeover.”

Transportation was topic No.1 in the Idaho Statesman of Boise. “Roadblock ahead for transit taxes?” it asked. The front page broke out “In favor,” “Against,” and “On the fence.”

Politics and economics made Page One in The Indianapolis Star: “Spotlight on jobs in governor’s race.” The Columbus Dispatch reported that John Kasich, a former U.S. representative and Fox News Channel pundit, will run for the Republican nomination for Ohio governor in 2010.

And The Advocate in Baton Rouge produced a good news-bad news front page with a main headline: “La. income surges” and off lead: “La. listed as 2nd-unhealthiest state.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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March 26, 2008

Road game: America’s pastime
opens season on another continent

By Kate Kennedy

“Opening Day, Japanese Style.”

That’s how The Day of New London, Conn., described Major League Baseball’s new season, which started with a game in Japan.

The New York Times used an opening-day photo as its lead art. “A Homecoming, at a Road Game Far Away,” its caption said. The Washington Post pictured the crowd and said: “Japan’s Starry Gems of the Diamond,” a reference to three Japanese superstars, including Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Boston Red Sox. El Universal in Caracas, Venezuela, showed a young fan.

The Red Sox won, defeating Oakland, 6-5 in 10 innings. “With late heroics, a sunny start,” The Boston Globe said. It was the best of two seasons in the Morning Sentinel of Waterville, Maine, which pictured Manny Ramirez of the Red Sox and ran a photo and story with the headline “Snowmobiling in May? Maybe.”

Politics returned to the front page after a hiatus during Easter weekend. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette paired coverage of a Hillary Clinton event with a story about John McCain’s comments on the economy. McCain was in California, where The Orange County Register said: “McCain shuns housing heroics.” McCain made other news: “McCain says no to Secret Service help in campaign,” The Arizona Republic in Phoenix said.

Several newspapers looked beyond horse-race political coverage. “Younger and black — but not Democrats,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said. The Indianapolis Star also focused on demographics: “Young voters flex political muscle.” And yet other newspapers printed an AP story on genealogy. In a “Celebrity Cousins” package, The San Diego (Calif.) Union-Tribune said: “Candidates related to famous entertainers, presidents, other notables, genealogists find.” Said The Forum in Fargo, N.D.: “Obama related to Pitt, Hillary Clinton to Jolie.”

A day after Detroit’s mayor was accused of perjury, the Free Press said: “Text message casts more doubt on mayor.” The Detroit News noted that not-guilty pleas by the mayor and his former chief of staff were entered to felony charges.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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March 25, 2008

Olympics torch-lighting and protests
make Page One for European newspapers

By Gene Mater

This seemed like a good day to see what European newspapers are telling their readers.

Starting with A for Austria, the Kurier in Vienna has a banner head “What health costs,” offering to tell you on Pages 2 and 3 what the experts say about how one can save and what changes there will be for the patients. In Brussels, Belgium, DeMorgen leads with the start-up of the new government but also offers a photo of the Tibet protest at the lighting of the Olympic torch. In Prague, beautiful capital of the Czech Republic, Prazsky Denik plays up the Olympic torch-lighting with a large photo of a Greek woman holding aloft a ceremonial bowl. Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin does the Olympic torch story in artistic fashion, with a five-column photo that finds the torch held high enough to go through the nameplate, a story quoting the International Olympic Committee that “Olympics help the people of Tibet,” while next to the photo in the space where one may generally find an editorial is a comparison of Olympics — “Berlin 1936, Peking 2008.” Still in Germany, Stars and Stripes plays up for its military audience the 4,000th U.S. troop death in Iraq. As one might expect in the birthplace of the Olympics, the Greek daily Makedonia in Thessaloniki gives over much of Page One to the games.

Nepszabadsag in Budapest also plays up the Olympic games, both the torch ceremony and the protests, while la Repubblica in Rome also reports on the protest but plays up the troop situation, including Italians, in Iraq, even as Gazeta Wyborcza in Warsaw leads with domestic news but finds Page One space for a story and photo of the Olympic protest. SME in Bratislava, Slovakia, does the same, including an arty photo of the lighting of the Olympic torch, while Avui in Barcelona, Spain, has two Olympic pictures — the protest and the lighting of the torch. El Mundo in Madrid skips the Olympics but does have a Page One story about the 4,000th U.S. death in Iraq, while the Basler Zeitung in Basel, Switzerland, also goes for the big, arty, Page One Olympic picture, while reporting “Flame lit, ceremony disturbed.” Finally, The Daily Telegraph in London has a big photo and the head “Tibet protesters disrupt Olympics ceremony” but two stories at the bottom of the page attracted this reader’s attention. One, that “Muslims ‘will soon outnumber traditional churchgoers’” and the other about the French president, claiming that “Sarkozy ‘appy to try English on the Queen.”

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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March 24, 2008

A gentle look at what tabloids
are whooping up this morning

By Gene Mater

Having looked through two free tabloids while commuting this morning, we thought we might check what other tabloids — free and pay — around the country are reporting to their readers.

We were somewhat surprised to find only two tabloids playing up, at least in a big way, the Iraq war death toll for U.S. troops having reached 4,000. The Rocky Mountain News in Denver has a Page One photo of the tombstones in a national cemetery and the big number 4,000, even as the Daily News in New York City offers a photo of a helmet, a weapon and boots topped by “4,000 DEAD.” The Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y., has a head above the nameplate: “U.S. dead in Iraq hits 4,000,” adding, “Milestone reached on violent day,” with story on Page 11. Newsday, out on Long Island, does it the same way with “War’s grim milestone: 4,000th U.S. death,” while whooping up a story about 11 of Long Island’s school superintendents earing more than $250,000 each. Metro, which calls itself “The world’s largest global newspaper,” has a Page One piece reporting “Death toll for U.S. troops in Iraq hits 4,000” in its New York edition but it didn’t make Page One of the Philadelphia and Boston editions. The U.S. probably has never fought a war where so many newspapers carry a daily body count, which at 4,000 after five years is fewer than the number of Allied troops killed in the invasion of France on June 6, 1944. We didn’t know the numbers then and they are still being debated today.

What are the other tabloids playing up? The New York Post on Page One teases to an inside piece, with pages 4 and 5 given over to the resigned N.Y. governor: “Spitzer’s kinky sex secrets.” The Chicago Sun-Times leads with a 12% pay raise for a Cook County official. Tampa Bay Times in St. Petersburg, Fla., has a big Page One Iraq photo — of an officer reunited with his abused dog. Philadelphia Daily News gives over most of Page One to a Villanova University sports victory as The Citizens’ Voice in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., plays up a FEMA trailer story. Tahoe Daily Tribune in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., reminds us that “Spring has sprung,” Quick in Dallas whoops up sports while Bluffton Today in South Carolina leads with a council debate about whether money should be spent on a veterans memorial or on some buses. So much for the war weary.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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March 21, 2008

If it’s March, it’s madness;
Page One wins with basketball

By Kate Kennedy

Disastrous flooding in the Midwest and economic troubles for U.S. consumers and cities dampened the spirits of the front page. But the saving grace on this Good Friday was college basketball.

The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., called it “That Magical Feeling.” There is madness in many corners of the country, including in Tampa, where the Tribune used a Cinderella-clad Dick Vitale to promote its NCAA basketball special section.

The Gazette of Colorado Springs, Colo., inserted photos into a bracket to illustrate surprises from the first round of tournament play. Double-digit wins in four games played in Omaha, Neb., prompted the World-Herald to proclaim: “Blowout City.” A large photo in the Las Vegas Review-Journal told the story of UNLV’s roll over Kent State. But for Arizona, it was “One and done,” the Daily Star of Tucson said.

The Sun of Baltimore examined the quandary that Mount St. Mary’s students find themselves in on this holy day and game day: “Piety vs. March Madness.”

A photo of a Missouri church surrounded by floodwaters appeared in the Times-Courier of Charleston, Ill. Illinois and Missouri were among five states coping with early spring flooding. “Flooded roads hamper rescuers, commuters,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. In Little Rock, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette said: “River towns put on high-water alert.” Along the Ohio River, The Cincinnati Enquirer said: “Floodwaters bring heartache.” The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., saw a silver lining in a rising Ohio River: “Spring drenching is drought defense.”

In a front-page consumer report, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale offered info on the economic stimulus rebates in chart form, referring to details inside and online. Neighboring Miami Herald incorporated charts and photos in a “Feeling the Pinch” package that quoted economists: “The recession is already here.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution paired national and local stories under the headline, “Simple Economics/Wisdom stays priceless in volatile times.”

The Salt Lake Tribune found inspiration from a back-yard barbecue for its “The sizzle goes fizzle” comparisons of Utah’s 2007 and 2008 economies. And with the city of Los Angeles facing a $400 million deficit, the Daily News gave a platform to money-saving ideas in a package headlined, “Wake up, City Hall.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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March 20, 2008

Five years later: Analyzing
the costs, benefits of Iraq war

By Kate Kennedy

“Americans reflect on 5 years in Iraq, the Chicago Tribune said on a day that reflection appeared on many U.S. front pages.

“Five Years Later: No end in sight as deaths, price tag climb,” said The State in Columbia, S.C. Like many newspapers, it paired varying views of the war in reporting on the fifth anniversary: “Bush: War a Success/Critics: We Disagree.” “Mix of Pride, Pain,” said The Sun of Baltimore, which included a Maryland story on “3 soldiers take look back” and a story from Washington: “Bush defends invasion.”

In a photo illustration, The Oklahoman of Oklahoma City remembered “Iraq and the Oklahomans who died there.” The Register-Guard of Eugene, Ore., asked: “What has it cost Oregon?” and answered in the numbers killed. The Lincoln Journal Star highlighted a new book by Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican: “War in Iraq was ‘a historic blunder.’”

Gulf News in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, pictured American officials in its analysis of the war: “They Came, They Lied, They’re Gone.” The Guardian of London, named one of the “World’s Best-Designed Newspapers” by the Society for News Design, pulled dueling quotes from Bush and a Baghdad resident.

Heavy rains and deadly flooding filled top headlines in the central U.S. In Ohio, The Columbus Dispatch used a map and charts in “Gauging the flow” of floodwaters. In Arkansas, the Democrat-Gazette of Little Rock printed an aerial photo and said: “Roads closed in 20 counties; every river likely to overflow.” “Crests in coming days could top levees, set records,” said the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in Missouri.

The weather forecast also got prominent play in other locations. “Spring is here. No, really,” said the Sun Journal of Lewiston, Maine. On this first day of spring, The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., was one newspaper that printed an AP story about the effect global warming is having on the season. Today’s photo comes from The Gillette News-Record in Wyoming, where the first day of spring is a slap in the face. “Still getting hit with snow,” its caption said.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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March 19, 2008

War and race Page 1 topics

By Patty Rhule

On a day with big news about an interest-rate cut and New York’s new governor’s admitting to past affairs, two other stories dominated front pages.

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s speech about race in America and the fifth anniversary of war in Iraq were the top headlines of the day.

The Times Daily in Florence, Ala., borrowed a page from Jane Austen to say, “Pride and prejudice: Obama urges nation to break its racial stalemate.”

“Obama: Racial resentment colorblind” said the Arizona Daily Star, with pullout quotes, pro and con, of reaction to the speech. “Obama’s Pivotal Moment: Church Leaders Keep Their Eyes on Race Drama” was the local take of The Bakersfield Californian. “The Speech of His Life” declared Chicago’s Sun-Times.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported “Obama says blacks have no monopoly on anger,” with helpful subheads “Context on controversy” and “Unity reemphasized.”

Long Island’s Newsday asked the question on many minds: “Can Obama Bridge the Divide?”

The fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion in Iraq found varied approaches:

  • The Anchorage Daily News led with images of a toppled Saddam Hussein statue, and the snow-flecked coffin of a U.S. soldier, for “5 years in Iraq.”

  • In Berkeley, a city known for its anti-war protests, the East Bay Daily News was “Bracing for the masses.”

  • Ontario, Calif.’s Inland Valley Daily Bulletin took a provocative approach. Against a backdrop image of a burning Baghdad, editors asked, in giant typeface, “How much longer?”
  • The San Francisco Chronicle put 53 photos on its front page of “The Bay Area’s Fallen.”

  • In Colorado, the Rocky Mountain News of Denver took a personal approach to the toll of war, with a photo of a Marine’s widow and the son he never met in “… sacrifice isn’t limited to soldiers and happy endings can be few and far between.”

  • In New Hampshire, the Portsmouth Herald had a photo of a soldier holding his Purple Heart reaching through its nameplate.

Patty Rhule is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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March 18, 2008

It’s the economy that newspapers
all over the world are reporting

By Gene Mater

Economic crises make brothers and sisters of us all. USA TODAY, the largest newspaper in the U.S., leads with a poll reporting “3 in 4 see a recession,” The Washington Post plays up “Crises of confidence in the markets,” while The New York Times leads with “Plunge averted, markets look ahead nervously.” For U.S. dailies from Alabama — where The Birmingham News asks “Is hope ahead for economy?” — to Wisconsin — where the Green Bay Press-Gazette reports on action “to plug plummeting performance” of the markets — the economy is the news.

It’s true all over the world as well. The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong leads with “HK stocks plunge leads regional rout,” DNA in Mumbai, India, banners “Your money is going up in smoke,” the Asahi Shimbun in Tokyo is concerned about the “yen’s surge” over the dollar, while Stars and Stripes in Tokyo tells its American military readers in Japan about a cost of living adjustment and that an “Increase to offset weak dollar will be in next paycheck.” Joong Ang Daily in Seoul, South Korea, quotes the nation’s president about the “beginning stages of a crisis,” The Nation in Bangkok, Thailand, leads with “Turmoil hits markets as US crisis deepens,” the Financial Review in Sydney, Australia, reports “Fear grips global markets” and Manila Standard Today in the Philippines tells its readers about markets falling on bear news as “gold, oil soar to new highs.”

In Israel, Haaretz of Tel Aviv plays up how “world markets sink,” adding that “shekel soars again against dollar,” the Turkish Daily News in Istanbul tells of the market problems with Page One graphs, and the European edition of The Wall Street Journal, published in Brussels, Belgium, leads with “For world’s bankers, trust is now a rare commodity.” The Gazeta Mercantil in Sao Paulo, Brazil, leads with expected cuts in the U.S. interest rate, while in America’s neighbor to the north The Globe and Mail in Toronto plays up “moves to contain deepening credit crisis” in the U.S.

If your local daily isn’t reporting all this doom and gloom, try one of these newspapers — or just be happy with what your hometown editor sees as the news of the day.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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March 17, 2008

Looking at the world we share
through European editors’ eyes

By Gene Mater

This seemed like a good morning to check out newspapers far afield to see what is going on beyond U.S. shores. We took a quick look at some of the European front pages on our Web site.

Kleine Zeitung in Graz, Austria, has a large Page One photo of hands checking money in a wallet with the headline “What remains for us is always less,” and a reference to taxes. The weather forecast doesn’t help, with rain expected, as seems the case universally. Moving over to Brussels, Belgium, what caught our eye in looking at Het Nieuwsblad was not the news but the offer above the nameplate of four DVDs of the Smurfs, another bow to universality. Also in Brussels, the European edition of The Wall Street Journal leads with “Global crisis will worsen, run into ’09, banks warn.”

But for several dailies, the troubles in Tibet and the accusations of the Chinese being involved in cultural genocide made Page One. That’s the story that leads Lidove Noviny in Prague even as it rates major Page One play in Die Welt in Hamburg and Nepszabadsag in Budapest. Corriere della Sera in Milan, Italy, also has Tibet on Page One but prefers to play up “The French punish Sarkozy,” reporting on the election losses of the French president. But for DAG in Amsterdam, Netherlands, it’s the Chinese stepping on the Tibetans, with photo, while Jornal de Noticias in Lisbon, Portugal, has the Dalai Lama accusing the Chinese of “cultural genocide.”

Moving over to the English-speakers, The Daily Telegraph in London notes, “Market turmoil expected as US bank runs out of cash,” which is a little behind reports that the matter has been resolved.

But when we turned to The Guardian in London we decided that civilization was safe. No, it’s not the exclusive lead story reporting that former Prime Minister Tony Blair supposedly offered “to meet masked IRA leaders.” No, it’s the even bigger type above the nameplate reading “FREE Great poets of the 20th century Seamus Heaney,” noting that The Guardian is “continuing our unrivalled series of collectable booklets,” and promising Siegfried Sassoon tomorrow.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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March 14, 2008

Economic woes push business
news out front

By Kate Kennedy

Money news took the lead on many front pages today in what The San Diego (Calif.) Union-Tribune described as “Economy, consumers repeatedly taking hits.” The newspaper broke out developments on the rising prices of gold and oil, falling value of the U.S. dollar and declining retail sales.

“No Light At End of Economic Tunnel,” The Day of New London, Conn., said. The Modesto (Calif.) Bee described the U.S. economy as “Coming apart at the seams.”

Gold prices are at an all-time high, and The Oregonian in Portland said: “$1,000 an ounce: Gold rush is on.” The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., had bad news for anyone who likes a doughnut with his morning newspaper: “Bakeries see rising costs as a recipe for disaster.”

News: Fallout from New York’s sex scandal continued on the state’s front pages. The New York Times said, “U.S. is examining Spitzer’s funds” and whether he used campaign money in his dealings with prostitutes. NYC tabs continued to spotlight a woman linked to the governor. “Spitzer’s hooker a MySpace millionaire,” AM New York said. The state capital newspaper, the Times Union of Albany, turned to the man who will become governor on Monday: “Paterson shows humanity, humor during first comments.”

As the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq approaches, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis is sharing first-person essays. “Five Minnesotans tell how the war changed their lives.” Today, a 29-year-old National Guardsman writes, “Serving ‘Wasn’t What I Expected.’”

Sports: News from basketball’s conference tournaments appeared on some front pages. The Kansas City (Mo.) Star used three-quarters of its page to report on Big 12 fans flocking to its downtown.

Weather: A 41-degree temperature swing in one week prompted the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram to print photos of warm and cold scenes.

The offbeat: Earlier this week, The Hutchinson (Kan.) News reported that a local woman had refused to come out of a bathroom for two years and was stuck to a toilet seat. The News followed up today with “Case of woman living in bathroom shocks town, baffles a nation.”

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at