May 22, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Immigration, Carter, gas prices Provide volatile mix for Page One

The background noise you hear as you go through today’s front pages is the sound of the nation’s editors mumbling, “What’s going to lead Page One — and what else am I going to put on the page?”

The immigration-bill debate in the U.S. Senate was the choice of some, with The Register-Guard in Eugene, Ore., winning today’s prize for a word rarely seen in a newspaper headline: “Contentious immigration debate starts in Senate,” all in a one-column head. For the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle in Cheyenne, the story rated a Page One banner: “Immigration decision delayed,” while The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., offered a major front-page effort with pros and cons about “The immigration debate.” For the Star-Banner in Ocala, Fla., it was “Senate puts off deal on immigrants.”

For other editors, former President Carter’s comments on his comments about the Bush administration rated Page One attention. The Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus, Ga., squared off the story with the head “Carter calls comments ‘careless,’” while The Bakersfield Californian reported that “Carter backs off Bush comments” and included an unflattering photo of President Carter. The Sentinel-Record in Hot Springs, Ark., told its readers that “Carter says remark was ‘careless or misinterpreted.’”

The price of gasoline made it for some dailies. The Tuscaloosa News in Alabama reported “Rising gas prices affect those who travel for a living.” The Charlotte Observer in North Carolina, noting that “Gas prices high by land, by sea,” added that there will be “No holiday from driving.” The Salt Lake Tribune suggested that “Gas prices could cut Utahns’ trips short.” For the Las Vegas Review-Journal the lead was something many know: “Prices at pump soaring.” That didn’t stop Newsday on Long Island, N.Y., from filling its tabloid Page One with a picture of a car wreck and the words “Deadly day on the roads.”

There were miscellaneous front-page leads, such as The Lima News in Ohio warning about a “Summer of discontent?” and adding that “Top cops concerned about hot weather, high crime.” For the Bridgewater, N.J., Courier-News, the story of the day was the “Countywide fitness initiative still accepting participants” for a slim-down program. For The Telegraph in Nashua, N.H., the lead was concern that “Seat belt bill may not be clicking.” But for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., the lead story could have been slugged AOT, meaning Any Old Time, with the head “Private college tuition rising.”

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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