August 1, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Media mogul all the rage; Trib gets to fourth base

There's drought in the South and hitches on the Hill and murder in small towns, but the major U.S. dailies were all about media titan Rupert Murdoch, whose bid to buy the Dow Jones Co. — publisher of The Wall Street Journal — finally succeeded.

So let's start with the Journal's front-page coverage. Under the kicker "Mogul's Dream," headline writers followed typical Journal style — clear and hyperbole-free: "Murdoch Wins His Bid for Dow Jones." The trademark Journal pencil illustration was of a smiling Murdoch, whose "three-month public tango" to buy the company from the Bancroft family ended yesterday with a $5 billion agreement. The Wall Street Journal Asia, published in Hong Kong, went to press before the deal was finalized, so editors had to settle for a What's News brief: "News Corp. was poised to win control of Dow Jones."

A few other metros were a little more cheeky with their headlines and portrayed the deal as the culmination of a hard-fought war: "Murdoch Seizes Wall St. Journal in $5 Billion Coup," The Washington Post; "Dow Jones Deal Gives Murdoch a Coveted Prize," The New York Times; "Murdoch wins his fight for Journal," Austin American-Statesman. The best headline came from The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa.: "Dow Jones bows before Rupert Murdoch's empire."

Several front pages characterized an Iraq War death-toll report as a "good news" story: "U.S. toll in Iraq lowest in 8 months," The Press of Atlantic City, N.J.; "Better month for U.S. in Iraq," Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine. Others reminded readers that, to the families, a death toll of one is too high. The Daily Press in Charlottesville, Va., ran a heartbreaker about Joshua Mattero, whose death in Iraq put him on Page One for the second time: "The first time Josh was on the front page of the Daily Press, he was five years old."

Finally, the Chicago Tribune decided to talk about sex, baby. Readers may have always known that they liked to have sex, but did they know that researchers have quantified why folks like to do it? The Tribune reported that, in fact, there are "237 reasons to have sex." And, since you're dying to know, here are just a few listed on the front page: "My hormones were out of control. It seemed like good exercise. I wanted to change the topic of conversation. I felt obligated." And our personal favorite: "I wanted to get a raise."

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

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