October 3, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Blackwater shootings dominate, but baseball playoffs to trump war news

Page One editors know a good story and how to play one with legs. Shocking news began evolving Sept. 16 with shootings of Iraqi civilians by a security company hired to protect U.S. diplomats. Congress grilled Blackwater USA’s chairman Erik Prince. Many newspapers carried the news out front.

The San Diego Union-Tribune said “Blackwater chief defends role in Iraq. Colorado’s Aurora Sentinel wrote, “Blackwater Chair Claims No Offenses.” The Army’s Stars and Stripes said: “Blackwater on the defensive.” In Montana, the Billings Gazette reported “Military contractor defends actions” but added: “Blackwater boss says his company is being made a scapegoat.”

The Washington Post landed a harder one-two punch: “Guards in Iraq Cite Frequent Shootings” with the zinger: “Companies seldom report incidents, U.S. Officials Say.” The Post explains private security companies in Iraq “open fire far more frequently than has been publicly acknowledged and rarely report such incidents to U.S. or Iraqi authorities.”

The Chicago Tribune: “Contractor defends war record” and “Blackwater’s chief tells house panel: We’re not cowboys.” Time will tell. Newspaper reports indicate contractors have more leeway than our troops about when and how they discharge weapons. This story isn’t over.

While war dominates headlines, remember it’s October. Baseball dominates the Chicago Tribune’s Page One with a smiling Alfonso Soriano. The cutline says his “quiet nature is sharp contrast to fellow San Pedro native Sammy Sosa.” Ouch. Soriano is becoming the baseball darling of the Dominican Republic.

The Portland Press Herald in Maine followed the nationals with their headline “Executive defends security company” but locals have baseball on their minds too. A big center photo of Fenway Park preps readers for game one of American League Division playoffs between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels.

Weather trumps war at the Hannibal Courier-Post, Missouri’s oldest newspaper. “Twisters wallop area” read the headline, but the story is of a woman who rode the funnel in her car, was flipped twice and obviously lived to tell about it.

One final story close to our hearts: Georgia’s Marietta Daily Journal’s story “Living History” about a youth museum that lets kids role play. Of the Cobb Youth Museum: “I have never experienced such a fun-filled field trip,” a student said. Wait until you see the Newseum!

Tim Friend plays for the Newseum's exhibit development team.

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