July 16, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Printing the news, raising hell in kinder, gentler fashion

“It is a newspaper’s duty to print the news and raise hell.” Wilbur F. Storey, a fire-and-brimstone newspaper editor of the old school, wrote those words in 1861. We know about printing the news but we wondered what a quick hop, skip and jump around the country’s dailies would show in the way of hell-raising.

For the Montgomery Advertiser in Alabama it’s telling about “Grieving family awaits aid” because “State fund for crime victims shuts out widow, son,” while The Morning News in Fayetteville, Ark., whoops up “Hospital ownership questioned,” noting that “Veterans Affairs, county disagree over control.” In case you thought the Scooter Libby story was behind us, take a look at the San Francisco Chronicle with the top-of-the-page square-off asking “Double Standard?” and adding that “Bush’s leniency for Libby doesn’t jibe with administration’s push to enforce mandatory minimum sentences.”  In Meriden, Conn., the Record-Journal offers a local push with “Towns lag nation in police staffing” while The Atlanta Journal-Constitution warns that “Drinking, drug abuse plague U.S. work force.”

Even way out in the Pacific, The Honolulu Advertiser warns about “Putting kids in harm’s way” in a major Page One piece about dangerous roads near schools, while the Chicago Tribune leads with the clever head “Food safety lacks teeth, critics say,” while on a closer coast the Portland Press Herald up in Maine warns its readers that “Portland schools go deeper in debt.” The Star Tribune in Minneapolis reports/complains that “Bureaucratic tape entangles couples trying to tie the knot” and The Buffalo News has a Page One piece about “Ethics reform meets reality in Congress,” and it’s about problems. We wondered how The Philadelphia Inquirer treated the new abysmal record of the home team. They did their hell-raising in red, stretched across the top of Page One, above the masthead in caps "PHILS POUNDED FOR LOSS NO. 10,000" but you have to go to the sports section to read all about it.

We’d like to think that Mr. Storey would be pleased.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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