August 6, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

‘A time to pray and heal’ follows Minn. bridge accident

“Pain, prayer unite Minnesotans.” The Chicago Tribune headline may have best captured the sentiment of headlines in many newspapers across the country, as reporting continued on the interstate bridge collapse in Minnesota.

In the Twin Cities, the St. Paul Pioneer Press showed scenes from an interfaith prayer service: “Together to reflect.” The Star Tribune of Minneapolis pictured Minnesotans gathered on another bridge -- a bicycle and pedestrian crossing -- to get a glimpse of the collapsed I-35W bridge. Front-page stories in newspapers in many states also looked at the high-tech tools being used in the investigation and posed the question: How did so many survive?

A different question was being asked about a story from another part of the world: “How could this happen?” The Daily Telegraph in London reported that an aging government research facility was linked to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle. “Human error may have led to outbreak,” The Guardian of London said.

The Washington Post reported that the Pentagon has lost track of 30% of the weapons the United States distributed to Iraqi forces. The story was picked up by many newspapers, including The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, which said: “Officials fear weapons in insurgents’ hands.”

Presidential candidates are a common sight in Iowa, but it was front-page news when nine Republican candidates debated foreign policy, health care and spending in Des Moines. All nine were pictured in a photo in The Gazette of Cedar Rapids. Three faces (John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney) made The Des Moines Register. And it was just two (Romney and Giuliani) in the Quad-City Times. (Don’t miss The Register’s unrelated story about the state’s $14,000 liquor cabinet.)

In a Monday enterprise package, the San Antonio Express-News looked at Hispanics at the polls. The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville turned Page One into a chart to report on a school superintendent’s performance review. And in a package titled “Undue influence,” the Seattle Post-Intelligencer examined a broken system that works “in favor of cops busted for DUI.”

All the news that fits: Today’s New York Times is 1 ½ inches narrower, as the newspaper adjusts to an industry standard and moves to cut newsprint costs. A note to readers said: “Slight modifications in design preserve the look and texture of The Times, with … somewhat fewer words per page.”

kkennedy@freedomforum.org Kate Kennedy, a former newspaper Page One editor, is director/diversity programs.

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