August 3, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Bridge disaster raises questions for nation

Day two of Page One coverage of the Minneapolis bridge collapse warns of troubled bridges over most of America’s waters. In Minneapolis, the Star Tribune shouts “FIGHTING THE RIVER, GRASPING FOR ANSWERS” and predicts “Fuse is lit over nation’s bridges.” The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, informs us of “America’s deferred maintenance” and states one quarter of the nation’s 577,000 bridges were rated deficient in 2004.

Headlines tell most of the story. The Miami Herald reports on the search for victims and who knew what and when about the bridge’s condition. The Indianapolis Star warns “Thousands of bridges in state, U.S., need repair” and cries “I-35W BRIDGE RATED ‘STRUCTURALLY DEFICIENT’ AS EARLY AS 1990.” The Chicago Tribune adds “Bridge fell in 4 seconds.” The Lexington Herald-Leader displays a Page One graphic, “Snapshot of a disaster,” and reports that 4,000 Kentucky bridges have problems. The Hartford Courant cautions that “411 Conn. Bridges Carry ‘Poor’ Rating.” 

While bridges dominate a second day, ethics leads The New York Times. The headline “CONGRESS VOTES TO TIGHTEN RULES ON LOBBYIST TIES” is a tease. Yes, the Senate approved a “far-reaching package of new ethics and lobbying rules,” appearing to ban some prime swag such as gifts, meals, free travel. The bill sent to President Bush also tries to block the revolving door for ex-lawmakers wanting to cash in on connections made with industries they supported in office. But the Times adds that “Opponents Say Ethics Overhaul Falls Short.”

The Miami Herald carries a second Page One story not to be missed. “Russian subs stake claim to undersea energy riches” is about scientists planting a Russian flag on the North Pole seabed. This may give Russians mineral and energy rights (black gold, Texas tea) to territories around the North Pole. Look at pictures of the mini-subs. The subs are the same used by James Cameron to film the movie “Titanic.”

We find no mention of bridges or congressional ethics in today’s Washington Times. But don’t miss the bottom head. “Cure for cocaine-fueled hooker parties: a big raise” is about Italy’s Christian Democrat party wanting higher pay to visit their wives at home so they don’t have to snort coke and keep company with prostitutes in Rome.

Finally, a tragedy unfolds for journalists. From the Oakland Tribune, “Prominent journalist shot dead in street.” The California newspaper reports the apparently targeted killing of longtime Bay area journalist Chauncey Bailey, the new editor at the Oakland Post. No motive is known yet for the slaying.

Tim Friend is senior content specialist for exhibit development at the Newseum.

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