April 4, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Editors keep news balls in air; wacky rocker’s tale tickles tabs

President Bush and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi duked it out on the front pages again today over the Iraq War. Many editors twinned coverage of the president's news conference with Pelosi's visit — characterized as "controversial" in several headlines — to Syria. The two top Pennsylvania dailies represented typical coverage decisions. The Philadelphia Inquirer went with a Bush lead — "Bush slams Democrats on war bill" — and a Pelosi photo op. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also ran a Pelosi photo (showing her in a headscarf) and tied the two items together in an action-reaction head: "Pelosi visit to Syria irks Bush."

Other Page One editors took a break from politics and put some ball games out front. The end of March Madness for women's college basketball got heavy coverage in the teams' local newspapers. The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., had the dejected players of Rutgers University and a headline that may have been an attempt to soften the blow of the 59-46 loss to the University of Tennessee: "So Close to Glory." The News Sentinel in Knoxville, Tenn., had an easier time of it — under the headline "Champs," reporter Mike Strange banged out a happy lede: "The University of Tennessee returned to the pinnacle of women's basketball Tuesday night."

Newspapers elsewhere had already moved on to the boys of the summer. Baseball's opening day got top coverage in various regions, but not every hometown could trumpet a win: "Game Spoils Opening Day," San Francisco Chronicle. Other sports reporters got ready to hit the links with golf's biggest players as they dreamed of the prestigious green jacket at the Masters in Augusta, Ga. The Augusta Chronicle's top story focused on one of the greatest golfers of all time: "Palmer will take the lead again. Honorary starter role now fits Arnie to a tee."

Today's Tabs: The Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times' banner headline may induce a reader double-take: "THE END IS NEAR." Turns out it's just a story on hurricane-season predictions. But in New York, it would be hard to overstate the bizarre nature of a report that Rolling Stones rocker Keith Richards once mixed his father's cremated ashes with cocaine — and snorted them. The Post went with clever: "Father Nose Best." But the Daily News decided this story was crazy enough to play straight: "I SNORTED MY DAD." Richards' publicist told the media that Richards was just joking.

Christy Mumford Jerding is the editorial director of the Freedom Forum.

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