November 6, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Television writers’ guild strike makes Page One news all over

Why should a strike of 12,000 movie and television writers in Hollywood and New York be Page One news all over the country? Well, Nielsen estimates that there are 286 million television viewers in about 112 million television homes in the United States and that television is watched eight hours and 14 minutes a day in the average household. So that’s why. It might well be argued that what affects television affects us all. If the strike isn’t on Page One today where you live, check again later in the week.

Here in the shadow of the nation’s capital, The Washington Post tells its readers that “Hollywood Strike Turns Punch Lines to Picket Lines,” while The Miami Herald warns viewers: “Hollywood writers strike; it’s re-reruns for late-night talk shows.” The Marietta Daily Journal in Georgia reports at the bottom of Page One that “Writers’ strike in full effect,” while The Lewiston Tribune in Idaho makes “Strike sends TV to reruns” the lead story. The Star Press in Muncie, Ind., contends that if the television strike lasts long “we'll all end up reading or talking or something.” The Sun in Baltimore claims in an unusual head that “Strike could speed ebb of network TV.” Others have made the same claim in past strikes with longer words than “ebb.”

The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., also notes that “Writers strike puts late-night shows on rerun,” while The Kansas City (Mo.) Star in its off-lead story claims “Strike puts TV on ‘mute.’” The St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press leads with a succinct “Writers walk out” even as the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star leads with “Writers strike sends late-night TV into reruns.” You’ll find much the same on Page One of The Oregonian in Portland, The Providence Journal in Rhode Island and the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia.

However, and in the interest of full disclosure, we must admit that when this task is done we’re going back to read the story at the bottom of Page One of the Yakima (Wash.) Herald-Republic, which reported: “Heifer falls 200 feet onto windshield of van.” Nothing to do with television, but we want to know about that flying cow.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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