June 19, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

White House e-mails under scrutiny; pastor accused of attacking husband

American humorist Will Rogers once wrote that "I read about eight newspapers a day. When I'm in a town with only one newspaper, I read it eight times." We thought we'd check on a few of those one-newspaper towns to see what Mr. Rogers would have found on Page One, read up to eight times.

Starting with The Anniston Star in the town of the same name in Alabama, we find that there's a "Water watch," with the first city in the county restricting water use, and that "White House e-mails may have broken federal law." For the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, the lead story is that "U.S. ends Palestinian aid ban," with the off-lead that e-mail story referred to as "fishy." Page One of The Advocate in Stamford, Conn., is full of local stories with one that might attract an outsider's attention: "City pastor jailed in slashing attack on her husband." The Augusta Chronicle reports — with photo and headline — about new quadruplets "Stranded in Sacramento" and needing a ride home to Georgia.

We didn't find that story on Page One of The Sacramento Bee, learning instead that a panel claims that "Rove sent e-mails illegally" and that pay hikes are in store for the California top brass. In the same state, we were a little puzzled by the lead story in the Merced Sun-Star, with the head "Local judge dismisses suit against Mercy Merced." You have to be a local to understand that one right away; it turns out that the story involves the Mercy Medical Center Merced. As for theRome News-Tribune in Georgia, we're going to read the story squared off on Page One under the head "City fills seat, OKs sidewalk cafes" to learn whether the seat is in one of the cafés. The Idaho Statesman in Boise was straightforward with that e-mail story: "White House e-mails may have broken law."

The Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa, is strictly local with its top-of the-page square-off reporting "West Rock River Bridge inaugurated." The Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine, attracts attention to its Page One with a big picture and a report that "Graffiti 'writers' seek place to display work." Meanwhile, The Beaufort Gazette in South Carolina might get Will Rogers to read at least once its top story on Page One with the inviting head "Woman shocked, beaten by ex-boyfriend."

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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