February 7, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

From tornadoes’ paths: Images of a region in shambles

“First terror, then grief.”

The Tennessean of Nashville might have said it best after dozens of tornadoes swept through the South, killing more than 50 people.

“Tornadoes wreak havoc across South,” the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader said. In Jackson, Tenn., much of Union University campus was damaged. A photo of the campus community “In Shambles” and a single local story filled the special edition of The Jackson Sun.

The deadliest February tornado outbreak in more than two decades struck five states:

Tennessee
At least 30 people died in the state. The Commercial Appeal in Memphis printed a photo of shock and grief the width of its page. “Lives lost and tattered,” it said. The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro pictured two people, including a volunteer firefighter, sitting in a damaged area. But amid the grief, there was a sign of hope. The Tennessean told the story of a “Miracle baby found in rubble.”

Arkansas
“Arkansas wreckage stretches 120 miles,” said the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock. A dramatic photo showed a yellow school bus among the neutral tones of damage. The Sentinel-Record in Hot Springs paired a photo with two articles that described the story from state and regional perspectives. “How can you help?” The Morning News in Springdale gave the answer.

Kentucky
More than a half-dozen people were killed in Kentucky, where The Courier-Journal of Louisville mapped “Death and devastation.” It was one newspaper that referred readers to video online. The Lexington Herald-Leader tried to make sense of violent weather: “Several counties hit hard while others spared.”

Alabama
The Decatur Daily pictured a man searching through the debris of a house where his daughter and her family were killed. The photo was picked up by other newspapers in the region. “No sirens to warn affected residents,” an accompanying story said. The Huntsville Times reported on others sifting through what remained of homes and belongings.

Mississippi
Injuries were reported, as The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson said: “Homes leveled in northern Miss.” And from the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo: “Twister recovery begins.”

kkennedy@freedomforum.org Kate Kennedy is front-pages editor at the Newseum.

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