April 15, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Do newspapers offer food for thought on local issues?

We read an interesting story yesterday about a commission that will be established to analyze whether people are getting the local news they need from newspapers and television stations to make decisions in their communities. Except for the unfortunate suggestion that government action might be proposed to cover broadcasting, it’s a study that sounds worthwhile. We decided to check a few dailies, including in capital cities, to see what local or state news makes Page One.

The Arizona Republic in Phoenix squares off a story claiming “Ariz. deportation policy a model,” a political issue these days, and also has a piece about how “Campaign 2008 gives students real-life lessons.” The Arkansas Democrat Gazette in Little Rock leads with problems of the homeless after February twisters. The Denver Post leads with the labor problems of area agricultural growers and shippers, while the Hartford (Conn.) Courant plays up several local stories on Page One, including who pays the most state income tax. The Tallahassee Democrat in Florida really fits the bill with stories about a tax commission rejecting revenue limits, new fees for parks, arts funding problems and health-care solutions.

The merger of Delta and Northwest airlines is played up in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution because it is a local story, as it is for The Cincinnati Enquirer and St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press.

For The State Journal Register in Springfield, Ill., the big story is that city population tops 120,000, coupled with a push for a water-rate hike. The Advocate in Baton Rouge, La., also is replete with state news — a bill to limit phoning while driving, high river-level problems, parking scarcity near the Capitol, and so on. The Nevada Appeal in Carson City tops Page One with, “Leaner public safety question could go on ballot,” and reports, “Sheep to protect city from wildfires.” The Santa Fe New Mexican leads with, “Councilors weigh in on police plan,” and the Statesman Journal in Salem, Ore., has a story about dead geese raising alarms with the hope that labs will find an explanation. The State in Columbia, S.C., is another daily with local issues topping the day — “Staffing, salaries worry city leaders” leads, with “DUI law sets sobering new penalties” the off-lead.

Yes, there are local issues being covered that give local readers food for thought.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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