March 24, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

A gentle look at what tabloids are whooping up this morning

Having looked through two free tabloids while commuting this morning, we thought we might check what other tabloids — free and pay — around the country are reporting to their readers.

We were somewhat surprised to find only two tabloids playing up, at least in a big way, the Iraq war death toll for U.S. troops having reached 4,000. The Rocky Mountain News in Denver has a Page One photo of the tombstones in a national cemetery and the big number 4,000, even as the Daily News in New York City offers a photo of a helmet, a weapon and boots topped by “4,000 DEAD.” The Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y., has a head above the nameplate: “U.S. dead in Iraq hits 4,000,” adding, “Milestone reached on violent day,” with story on Page 11. Newsday, out on Long Island, does it the same way with “War’s grim milestone: 4,000th U.S. death,” while whooping up a story about 11 of Long Island’s school superintendents earing more than $250,000 each. Metro, which calls itself “The world’s largest global newspaper,” has a Page One piece reporting “Death toll for U.S. troops in Iraq hits 4,000” in its New York edition but it didn’t make Page One of the Philadelphia and Boston editions. The U.S. probably has never fought a war where so many newspapers carry a daily body count, which at 4,000 after five years is fewer than the number of Allied troops killed in the invasion of France on June 6, 1944. We didn’t know the numbers then and they are still being debated today.

What are the other tabloids playing up? The New York Post on Page One teases to an inside piece, with pages 4 and 5 given over to the resigned N.Y. governor: “Spitzer’s kinky sex secrets.” The Chicago Sun-Times leads with a 12% pay raise for a Cook County official. Tampa Bay Times in St. Petersburg, Fla., has a big Page One Iraq photo — of an officer reunited with his abused dog. Philadelphia Daily News gives over most of Page One to a Villanova University sports victory as The Citizens’ Voice in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., plays up a FEMA trailer story. Tahoe Daily Tribune in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., reminds us that “Spring has sprung,” Quick in Dallas whoops up sports while Bluffton Today in South Carolina leads with a council debate about whether money should be spent on a veterans memorial or on some buses. So much for the war weary.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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