May 2, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

On Friday, it’s all about Saturday and Sunday

TGIF. Except that Fridays pose a challenge. Should festivals, music performances, sports and other weekend events be promoted on Page One? Contained to a weekend section? Ignored?

The largest and most popular events often are advanced and then covered on Page One of community newspapers.

“What a Weekend!” screamed today’s Indianapolis Star. “There’s a political race, a 13.1-mile footrace and opening day at the Speedway …”

The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post combined a story, photo, info box and reference to video online to promote the three-day music and wine SunFest. The Herald Journal in Spartanburg, S.C., profiled the resident who named the city’s festival Spring Fling. And the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison chronicled 40 years of the Mifflin Street Block Party.

Will leeches suck readers into a story? The Sioux City (Iowa) Journal thought so as it promoted the Great Walleye Weekend (that’s fishing) and reported the scarcity of leeches (bait) because of the late spring.

A stand-alone photo is a common way to advance events. The Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News used the technique for the state aviation trade show. The Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram included “Three reasons not to miss Mayfest” in its expanded cutline.

The Desert Sun in Palm Springs , Calif., used the top of its page to advance a country music event, promising live blogs and photo galleries online.

Images from Robert Downey Jr.’s new superhero flick “Iron Man” appeared on many pages, including the South Florida Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale. RedEye from Chicago divided its page in half for a “Metal Head” illustration.

And what would a weekend be without sports? It’s NASCAR for the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, which provided an eight-page race section inside. And it’s the Derby in Kentucky, where The Courier-Journal of Louisville profiled a past winner and referred to Derby material throughout its print and Web products. A Lexington Herald-Leader illustration combined the Derby with a different kind of a horse race to promote a weekend story: “Tip sheet for candidates if they come to derby.”

Kate Kennedy is front-pages editor at the Newseum.

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