January 8, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

New Hampshire primary election isn’t the only Page One news today

When we looked at Page One of the nation’s biggest daily and found USA Today leading with “Murder down 6.5% in big cities,” we decided that there was news beyond today’s New Hampshire primary. Then we checked our hometown Washington Post and, sure enough, at the bottom of Page One was a piece reporting that Virginia moonshiners “still tangle in cat-and-mouse game” with state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents. Although whooping up the primary, The New York Times, the newspaper of record, felt that the financial problems of a hospital in Atlanta was worthy of Page One space and a photo.

We did an informal check of newspapers here and there and found that indeed there was other news today. The Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus, Ga., and the Opelika-Auburn News in Alabama led with the same story, the two self-described Satanists arrested in church fires. The Norwich Bulletin in Connecticut played up the mayor’s state of the city speech, noting that “Mayor stresses positive.” The Gainesville Sun in Florida said: “Our turn to vote is near,” but that’s for the city commission. The Truth in Elkhart, Ind., told its readers, in words and photos, that “Local missionaries find excitement, faith” in Africa. The Rapid City Journal in South Dakota led with: “Tribal leaders reject secession,” with Lakota officials saying that “U.S. treaties protect ‘our sovereignty.’” The Daily Progress in Charlottesville, Va., warned its readers that “City’s sewer system in bad shape.” The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle in Cheyenne warned that “Girls who feel unpopular gain weight.” For the Williamsport Sun-Gazette in Pennsylvania the big news was the swearing-in of the mayor.

Good and bad weather is always worth Page One. The Repository in Canton, Ohio, asks “63 degrees in Jan?” and adds that “A touch of spring welcome,” while the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, Calif., after days of rain in the south and snow in the north, has a big Page One photo that bears out the head, “Finally: Picture-Perfect Weather.”

Tired of election news? Pick up your local newspaper and you’ll find something else of interest. We’re going back to read about the moonshiners.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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