March 12, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

NCAA tournament, Iraq, Bush compete for top spot

“All I know is what I read in the papers” is a quote left to us by American humorist Will Rogers. He also said, “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.” In a lesser known quote, Rogers, who died in a plane crash in 1935, said that “If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there 10 years later.” We don’t know if that was true in the past but we thought we would check it out today.

The Cincinnati Enquirer has a busy front page today, full of news of interest to the local reader. The lead story is about shopping malls staying open later, although the page is dominated by a tease, pictures and a report about an inside 16-page NCAA Tournament Special Section. One of its favorite teams, the Ohio State Buckeyes, is seeded first in the South Regional.

There are other local stories of probable interest. However, as far as the outside world is concerned, there is a one-paragraph reference to an inside story about President Bush saying that he wants to see actions, not words, from Iran and Syria. There is a small photo about the third anniversary of the Madrid, Spain, train bombing, with story inside. There is one other outside world story on Page One, from Chicago, contending that “To many young people, image is all.”

We decided to check out other Ohio front pages on our Web site. For the Akron Beacon Journal, sports rated Page One attention but the lead story is “Sunni fighters torch homes in Iraq,” even as The Columbus Dispatch offered a similar approach, with Page One sports news and the lead story “Bomb kills 21 Shiite pilgrims.” The Lima News leads with the upcoming presidential election, asking “Where do they stand?” adding that “Beyond Iraq, issues starting to form for ’08 White House race.” The Plain Dealer in Cleveland leads with a story about fixing potholes, which indeed may make some readers happy. If not, there is a large photo and story about coyotes, real coyotes, in Cleveland.

The other number one seeds in the annual basketball championship race rated big coverage, too, at least in their home states. In Kansas, the Lawrence Journal-World led with “KU nets No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament.” The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., devoted three-quarters of its front to “UNC Regains ACC Title, Ends Wolfpack’s Run.” A smaller headline notes that the University of North Carolina is number one in the East Regional. The University of Florida is number one in the Midwest Regional, but The Miami Herald led with news, real news, from Latin America: “Mixed Reception” was the label headline over a story about President Bush’s visit to Colombia. Sports got one column: “Gators No. 1 Seed.”

As for the Will Rogers remark, well … .

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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