Today's Front Pages Analysis
Soldiers stretched, players cleared; God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut
A Pentagon announcement that soldiers would spend an extra three months on duty in the Middle East got picked up as a top story today across the nation. Many stories immediately went to soldiers and their families for reactions, and the Chicago Tribune said it found “Stoicism, anxiety.”
A Tarheel-state story that made national headlines over a year ago was back in the spotlight today. Three former Duke University lacrosse players who were accused of rape were exonerated the N.C. attorney general. The Raleigh News & Observer gave over its entire front page to the story, with a straight news roundup, a legal analysis of how the case fell apart and a human-interest piece on how the accusation impacted the players and their families. The Winston-Salem Journal pulled out the attorney general’s statement as the headline: “Tragic rush to accuse.”
But some of the most interesting coverage came from outside the state. The Philadelphia Daily News ran a photo of the Duke players, along with a photo of the Rutgers women’s basketball team, and labeled them both: “SMEARED.” The New York Post did something that many news organizations never do – they ran a photo of the accuser, and the Post showed her no mercy: “THE DUKE LIAR. Now America can see her face.”
Florida Today carried a huge headline that, at first glance, might lead readers to think it topped an Iraq War story: “Blast kills 2.” Turns out a gas explosion in Melbourne killed a young man and his infant daughter. The Orlando Sentinel led with the same story, but with a more-disturbing angle that rescuers didn’t believe a woman who said victims were still in the rubble: “Blast survivor says pleas were ignored. ‘I tried my hardest, but it seemed like nobody was helping,’ she says.”
Finally, many front-page editors put an obituary out front today, but The Indianapolis Star’s treatment of the death of hometown-boy-made-good Kurt Vonnegut stood out. The package was dominated by a large black-and-white photo of Vonnegut in his prime and was titled “American voice, Hoosier icon dies.” Just so readers understood the local significance, editors added a subhead: “The satirical novelist was born and raised in Indianapolis, but he earned his literary fame writing about mankind.” The Star went on to report that Vonnegut, author of “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Breakfast of Champions” and “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” had been scheduled to speak April 27 in Indianapolis as part of a yearlong celebration of his work.
Christy Mumford Jerding is the editorial director of the Freedom Forum.