September 19, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Federal Reserve action leads to a lot of interest by Page One

The big news today is the Federal Reserve Bank’s cut in the rate that determines what banks pay in the short term to borrow money from each other. Front Pages brought the story home to explain what it means to readers across the nation.

The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News said, “Dow up 336 on interest rate cut.” The Associated Press story lead spelled it out: "It took more than four years, but borrowers finally got some interest rate relief." Amen. The Los Angeles Times explained: “Fed slashes key rate to stir lenders.” A “Financial score card” bulleted the prime rates for a fast read. The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colo., shouted, “HALF-POINT RATE CUT ‘BOLD MOVE’ BY FED.” The lead said, “There was something for just about everyone” in the cut. Indeed.

The Washington Post said: “Fed Cuts Key Rate More Than Expected.” The story’s second graph nailed it: “The rate cut, the first in four years, will eventually lead to lower borrowing costs for consumers and businesses, making it cheaper to take out a car loan or home mortgage or to invest in a business.” What sweet music following sour notes on housing foreclosures. The St. Petersburg Times in Florida borrowed from Clint Eastwood: “Fed makes market’s day with rate cut.” The subhead tied the news to foreclosures.

In Georgia, The Augusta Chronicle’s brass-tacks headline read, “Fed cuts fund rate.” A breakout on “THE IMPACT” explained in a nutshell that borrowers could expect credit-card debt to cost less and, halleluiah, receive less-expensive adjustable mortgage rates.

The Honolulu Advertiser scared readers with: “Home foreclosures tripled in Hawaii.” But it comforted with a second story on how the cut benefits borrowers. The Times-Courier in Charleston, Ill., captured the essence again with the AP story’s key words: “interest rate relief.”

The New York Times told readers that “Stock Markets Soar” and revealed this cut was the Fed’s “most powerful interest rate weapon.” The Times cautioned readers not expect more cuts, as policymakers worry about triggering inflation. A breakout warned housing prices would continue to fall. For young newspaper readers buying a new home this is all very good news.

Tim Friend is on the exhibit development team at the Newseum.

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