October 15, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

What is news to some editors isn’t worth mentioning to others

It’s a phenomenon worthy of a journalism-school study. The lead story in the nation’s biggest daily newspaper — USA Today — tells several million readers that “Cancer deaths drop off rapidly,” a report that many other dailies — mostly smaller publications — also whooped up on Page One as news readers really want to know.

But there is no mention of it on Page One of the nation’s second-biggest daily, The Wall Street Journal (although there is a Page One story about kidney swaps). The third-biggest daily — the newspaper of record, The New York Times — settles for teasing the story on page A18. And here in the shadow of the nation’s capital, The Washington Post has nothing on Page One or inside, although a quick check found three versions on the Post’s Web site. And there’s nothing on Page One of The Washington Times.

The Anniston (Ala.) Star plays up “Cancer death rates falling at faster pace,” and you’ll find a similar head on Page One of the Valley News in West Lebanon, N.H. The Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star leads with “Cancer death rates drop faster than ever,” while the Savannah (Ga.) Morning News plays up “Cancer death rates drop” and The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind., leads with “Cancer deaths declining steadily.” For The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., the lead is “U.S. cancer death rates declining,” The Denver Post finds room at the bottom of the page for “Cancer’s toll falls faster in recent years,” and the Johnson City (Tenn.) Press says: “Report: Cancer rates fall.” The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., tells its readers about “Cancer death rates declining.” The Salt Lake Tribune leads with the story, and on and on.

But a quick look at the nation’s major-market dailies finds no such coverage, not in the Chicago Tribune, The Detroit News, the Los Angeles Times or the Daily News in Los Angeles, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and so on.

Is there a second-guesser in the congregation?

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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