June 29, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Editors toss a coin on today’s lead; the Tesh takes over Centennial State

Today’s front pages left a six-of-one, half-a-dozen-of-the-other impression when it came to the top national story — it was either the defeat of the immigration bill or a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on school diversity.

For the immigration story, headlines were littered with words like “collapsed,” “buried,” “killed,” “quashed.” The Winona (Minn.) Daily News’ approach was typical: “Immigration bill crushed.” The Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald pulled out a strong action verb: “Immigration bill thrashed.” California newspapers played the story big; the Los Angeles Times ran a banner head, “Senate buries immigration bill,” and a photo of obviously dejected senators including California’s own Dianne Feinstein. The Press-Telegram in Long Beach took a more personal approach to its reaction story: “Joy, sorrow greet death of immigration bill.” New York’s Daily News, in typical fashion, went for the jugular: “DEAD DUCK WALKING: Bush now worse than lame duck after immigration bill’s defeat.”

On the Supreme Court story, many headlines concentrated on the ruling’s narrow margin and the ensuing uncertainty expressed by local school officials. Getting all that across often meant explanatory subheads: “Court axes efforts at desegregation; A shaky 5-4 majority says school diversity plans violated students’ rights. How local districts should proceed, however, is unclear,” St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times. Other editors emphasized the movement of the court from its last ruling on desegregation policies: “Justices, in shift, reject 2 race-based school plans,” The Boston Globe.

In the midst of such heavy news, some editors made some front-page room for Independence Day holiday planning. The Tennessean lamented the limited opportunities brought on by a Wednesday July 4: “Midweek holiday reshapes travel plans; Many Tennesseans intend to spend Fourth at home.” That suits Liz Gruen – the West Paterson, N.J., Herald News’ cover girl – just fine. She hardly ever takes time off, part of a trend the newspaper called “No Vacation Nation.”

Some Colorado ladies apparently were happy to take some time off – to meet “The Tesh.” If you don’t know who “The Tesh” is, The Gazette laid it all out on Page One. John Tesh – a former Entertainment Tonight host who has found a second life as a musician and radio host – was in town to “cull the best local talent” with a competition titled “Dancing with The Tesh.” Young dancers flocked to the auditions, even though they didn’t appreciate the glory of The Tesh – they had no idea who he was. Their moms sure did. “I’d dance, if you got to dance with him,” gushed 46-year-old Susan Stout. But The Tesh was having none of it: “I’m not much of a dancer,” he said “coolly.”

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

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