May 16, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Sir William Berkeley is rolling over in his grave at what has happened

Sir William Berkeley was governor of Virginia in the long ago, appointed to that post in 1642 by King Charles I.  Sir William must have done other things, but he is best remembered for his remarks in 1671, essentially in favor of keeping the populace in the dark. He wrote:  “I thank God, we have not free schools nor printing; and I hope we shall not have these hundred years. For learning has brought disobedience, and heresy and sects into the world; and printing has divulged them and libels against the government. God keep us from both!”

Times have changed, and we thought we would take a look at today’s front pages in the royal colony of Virginia.

The biggest daily that calls Virginia home is the biggest daily in the nation, USA Today in McLean, which finds space on Page One for a major story for some newspapers – the California Supreme Court striking down the ban on same-sex marriages – but plays up everyone’s “incredible shrinking nest egg” and leads with “Airline fuel cuts concern pilots.”

The Danville Register & Bee manages to fill almost all of Page One with purely local stories, and The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg does much the same, except for the formal opening of the second span of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge near Washington that caused a traffic jam that you and Sir William wouldn’t believe. The Daily Press in Hampton Roads also goes for local news to inform its readers, while Link in the same city gives over Page One to a tease for “10 Weekend Plans” that you will find inside.

The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk whoops up a story that would bother Sir William, about the Virginia Sen. Jim Webb-sponsored “G.I. bill clears first big hurdle,” a bill that includes education.  The Richmond Times-Dispatch is the only daily in the state that leads with “California’s highest court rules gay marriages legal,” while The News Leader in Staunton can’t help tweaking officialdom with “Congestion stems from bridge’s dedication.”

Since West Virginia was part of Virginia in Sir William’s days, we thought we’d look at those dailies as well.  The Charleston Gazette goes local except for a national farm bill story at the bottom of the page and The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington does much the same, while The Dominion in Morgantown finds room for an update on the death toll from China’s earthquake.

We’ll leave it to our faithful readers to decide whether Sir William had a point or two to make.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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