March 13, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Editors focus on local, but find room for VA fallout, U.S. attorneys

How well do local newspapers serve their readers with news from beyond the communities being served? We did a spot check of 10 of the 524 newspapers in our Web site this morning and found that, although local news is what it‘s all about, readers were indeed kept abreast of two or three of the major national stories of the day.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock leads with “Highway bond bill clears panel,” a story of interest to all drivers in the state, but the off-lead story is about “Army’s surgeon general retiring,” with a one-column cut of the man in question and another story down below reporting “White House posed firing all 93 prosecutors.” The latter two are the major stories in The New York Times and The Washington Post today. The Arizona Republic has a busy Page One with local stories, including one about the allergy season but found room for a tease about the surgeon general, with story inside, and a story headed “For Bush, Yucatan ruins hold allure,” about the president’s South American tour.

The Fresno Bee in California has Page One room to tell its readers “Scandal claims 3d Army official” and that “White House considered firing all U.S. attorneys” with the rest of the page given over to local and area coverage. Most of Page One of The Gazette in Colorado Springs is also local, but down at the bottom is “Injured soldiers too much for system, Army reports” and “Walter Reed fallout widens.” Dominating Page One of The Augusta Chronicle in Georgia is “Induction honors music greats” with a photo of Aretha Franklin plus a traffic-safety story but there is space for “VA ordering review of its 1,400 clinics” and “Army official is ousted.” The Wichita Eagle in Kansashas a front page with much local news but there it is, at the bottom, “VA orders all hospitals, clinics checked” and “Army surgeon-general resigns.”

The South Bend Tribune in Indiana leads with “Kids crusade against smoking” but doesn’t let you forget “Resignation for Army’s surgeon general.” The American Press in Lake Charles, La., also carries “Walter Reed scandal claims third high-profile Army official” and on Iraq war issues in Congress while reporting local news on a busy Page One. The Kansas City Star has both the Army problem and the White House involvement in the prosecutors' firings on Page One, along with local coverage. The Las Vegas Review-Journal has much about the town on Page One but also reports about the retiring Army surgeon general and the congressional talks about Iraq.

A good mix is there for one and all.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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