August 17, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Soldier suicides, disasters, terror verdict rule headlines

War is hell. Some soldiers survive only to take their own lives when they come home. Newspapers across the nation carried Page One headlines today about a rise in suicide deaths of soldiers in the Army. The Stars and Stripes of Washington, D.C., summed up the news with its banner, “Army sees increase in suicide rate.” The suicides are attributed to failed relationships.

The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle says “Army suicide rate at 26-year high.” The Chronicle also captures the essence of what made front-page news in most cities with its stories of Peru’s earthquake, trapped miners and Jose Padilla’s guilty verdict on charges of terrorism conspiracy. The newspaper’s headlines tell us “Rescuers line up bodies for families to identify,” and “Padilla convicted of plotting attacks.”

The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post agreed with the choice of top stories. It carried Padilla’s guilty verdict and informed us that the “Death toll in Peruvian quake climbs to 510.” The Chicago Tribune reads, “Padilla guilty in terror case” and “Peru rushes to find quake survivors.” There is some Page One confusion about the troubled rescue attempt at Utah’s Crandall Canyon mine. But The Santa Fe New Mexican got it right with “Cave-in kills three rescue workers, injures six.”

As earthquakes rattle Peru and Utah, weather harasses the South and Midwest. The Times of Munster, Ind., announced, “Storm damage massive, cleanup overwhelming.” High winds uprooted trees and downed power lines. In Houston, newspapers talk of a small storm with a big punch. Three deaths have been reported. Central Texas is flooding.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times says, “We prepared for Erin’s worst, but her fury passed us by and drenched Houston.” The Caller-Times also says it’s safe to drink the city’s water, which was contaminated by bacteria.

Meanwhile, some think the economy is heading south. Home sales are slow in many areas, including Corpus Christi and Lawrence, Kan. The Lawrence Journal-World tells readers a “Building slump hits home.” That newspaper also addresses the Army suicides with hope: “Counseling center helps military veterans deal with depression, suicidal thoughts.”

In Minneapolis, the Star Tribune is still focused on the city’s bridge disaster. Today’s headline: “As state money diminished, so did goals for bridge safety.”

One interesting science note is in the Cape Cod Times of Hyannis, Mass. Page One reads, “Tapping into cancer, Cape tree rings may provide clues to cause.” Sleuths are taking core samples from tree trunks and analyzing the chemical composition. Mysterious clusters of cancer in the area might be linked to toxic chemicals absorbed by trees. Chemicals associated with specific rings might reveal dates of exposure.

Tim Friend is senior content specialist at the Newseum.

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