February 16, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

A sticky situation for peanut butter, while toilets start talking back to drunks

Editors feasted on a delicious food story today after peanut butter was blamed for an outbreak of salmonella. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram may have summed it up best with, “Peanut butter in a big jam,” while The Bakersfield Californian featured a photo of a jar of Peter Pan under the headline “Salmonella outbreak.”

Only a few major dailies led with President Bush’s statement on Afghanistan. The Chicago Tribune’s “Bush: Strike at Taliban,” and The Oregonian’s “Bush warns of Afghan trouble” were the only two headlines to get the top spot.

The New York tabs went with the tried and true, crime and sex. The Daily News used a giant fingerprint and a photograph of a beautiful victim to support the headline “Mark Of A Killer,” while Newsday called attention to “Sex Offenders In Trailers.”  

The big news in Spain was the start of the trial for the men accused of the March 11, 2004, train bombing. El Mundo in Madrid ran a large photo of the alleged “mastermind” testifying before the Supreme Tribunal.

For many Eastern papers the big news was the weather. The Times Union of Albany, N.Y., ran a large color photo of a teenager getting some big air off a snow drift under the headline “Snow Day.” The Citizens’ Voice from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., covered the dark side of the storm’s aftermath, the closing of major interstate highways and stranded travelers.

But up in the frozen tundra of Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News ran a front-page story on a novel approach to combat drunk driving. The headline said it all: “Talking urinal cakes join crusade to keep drunks from driving.” The recorded message ends with the warning, “Remember, your future is in your hand.” 

Paul Sparrow is the Newseum’s vice president for broadcasting

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