October 10, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Contractors kill again in Iraq as local police forces get scrutiny

News of Iraqi civilians shot by private contractors captured the attention of many Page One editors today. Cops at home also made headlines that must have raised eyebrows at editorial meetings.

The New York Times displays a stunning photograph of a blood-stained, bullet-riddled car and a boy’s face. You have to look to decide what he’s feeling. Two women were sprayed with gunfire by guards from an Australian-run firm. The headline said: “Latest shooting by contractors kills two Iraqis.” The story explains that the contractor works for the United States Agency for International Development.

The Gazette of Colorado Springs, Colo., said: “Iraqi killings reignite anger.” It’s been less than a month since guards for another firm killed Baghdad residents. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution emphasized “Focus back on private guards.” The St. Cloud (Minn.) Times also ran the story out front.

The Los Angeles Times led with “LAPD takes blame for Park melee.” Last May, chaos broke out in MacArthur Park during demonstrations over immigration. TV cameras showed cops beating people with batons and firing “less-than-lethal rounds” at journalists and protesters. The “melee” injured 246 journalists and protesters and 18 officers. The FBI is investigating and yesterday the LAPD admitted it used excessive force.

The Chicago Sun-Times said “GOOD RIDDANCE” as Chicago’s police department may be disbanding its “elite special operations unit.” The bad boy who turned on the heat was a cop reportedly putting a hit on another cop.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale carries a front-page piece on the Taser phenomenon. Cops love ’em. A by-the-numbers breakout is thought-provoking. In six months, 49 locals have been shocked; 100 city cops carry Tasers. At the Broward Sheriff’s Office, 800 deputies carry Tasers and unholstered the stunners 344 times.

Finally, some big-city papers carried the Republican debate, with Mitt Romney and Rudolph Giuliani getting top billing. The Boston Globe summed it up: “Romney, Giuliani spar over budgets.” Considering the Sun-Sentinel’s interesting statistics, how would candidates spar if given Tasers before a debate? That sure would make Page One.

Tim Friend is a member of the Newseum's exhibit- development team.

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