December 10, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Colorado killings, politicking Oprah rate unequal Page One treatment

We thought we would check out two stories that attracted national television interest and coverage during the weekend, to see how local dailies handled the news. Neither made Page One of The Washington Post, while The New York Times teased the first one with a story inside.

In the first story, shootings at two Colorado church institutions resulted in several deaths. For the Rocky Mountain News in Denver it was a “Sabbath of sorrow” under an almost full-Page One photo of two women as they “await calls from loved ones,” while The Denver Post bannered “Attacks may be linked.” The story rated below-the-fold coverage with AP stories in the Greeley (Colo.) Tribune and in the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colo. However, in faraway Alaska the Anchorage Daily News localized the story with a Page One banner reporting, “Gunman kills Alaskan at Colorado youth mission.”

The other story was Oprah Winfrey’s campaigning for and with would-be president Barack Obama, first in Iowa and then in New Hampshire. For two of the three Iowa dailies on our Web site, the visit is strictly past tense with no Page One follow in either The Des Moines Register or the Quad-City Times in Davenport. However, The Gazette in Cedar Rapids says farewell with a lead story from New Hampshire telling all that “Oprah, Obama hit the road.” And what about the pair in New Hampshire? Well, the Union Leader in Manchester gives over much of Page One to what it refers to as “The power of O,” noting that “Talk show superstar wows NH,” whereas The Telegraph in Nashua settles for a two-column head down below, noting, “Oprah helps fire up crowds for Obama.” The Valley News in West Lebanon uses numbers: “8,500 see Obama, Winfrey in Manchester.” The Conway Daily Sun in North Conway takes a Page One pass and ignores the story.

But for us the Boston Herald gets the prize for telling its readers that “Winfrey wows ‘em in bid to boost whatshisname,” adding for emphasis that “Thousands swoon at N.H. rally,” and suggesting that you turn to page 7 for details if you really care.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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