June 25, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Newspapers provide the light, readers find their own way

Give light and the people will find their own way. That's one of the greatest newspaper -- indeed one of the greatest media -- mottoes of all times. It belongs to the E.W. Scripps Company, although scholarly readers may claim that Dante used some similar words a few hundred years ago. We thought that we would see how much light today's front pages are shining on the world around us.

Only five of the 19 Scripps dailies are available on our Web site today so the sampling is neither as extensive nor as scientific as we would have liked, but this is what we found. The appropriately named Record-Searchlight in Redding, up in northern California, offers a busy Page One full of local news, noting that “Happy Valley farmers offer map of local produce” while also reporting “New green-waste disposal site opens” and a few other items of interest to the residents. Down south in California, the Ventura County Star – which is the only one of the five to have a stylized Scripps lighthouse in its masthead – also offers a Page One full of local news -- a grocery strike, problems with the repairs of an apartment complex, the falling-off of attendance at parades, and so on. The lead story, however, tells us that “Generals say Iraqis not yet up to the job.” Rocky Mountain News in Denver devotes most of Page One to photos of the gay-pride parade for which “tens of thousands” gathered. In Texas, the Caller Times in Corpus Christi has a couple of major education stories on Page One, the lead about a cut in health funds and the concern that “Schools must find new way to insure” with a story at the bottom of the page reporting “Teacher shortage distresses schools.” Finally, the Kitsap Sun in Bremerton, Wash., leads with a “relay for life,” about people helping to fight cancer while the off-lead tells the reader that the local arson trail “grows colder.” There’s the light; let the people decide.

Sure there are other stories around. The New York Times leads with “Hussein’s cousin sentenced to die for Kurd attacks” and The Washington Post plays up “Illegal immigrants targeted by states” while the biggest daily of them all, USA TODAY, leads with “U.S. to reward Iraqi tribes,” but perhaps it all depends on what helps you find your way.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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