June 9, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Many report $4-a-gallon gasoline, while others worry about the impact

There seems to be some magic in the number four. In 1954, Roger Bannister ran the mile in under four minutes, something that conventional wisdom said couldn’t be done. Now everyone’s doing it. And so it is in this nation of drivers that many newspapers are telling us what is painfully aware to all, that regular gasoline at the pump now tops $4 a gallon.

It’s the off-lead story in The Decatur Daily in Alabama, with a one-column head “U.S. gas average hits the $4 mark,” while the Arkansas Democrat Gazette in Little Rock leads with “In U.S. first, gas average hits $4.” The Denver Post warns its readers “$4 a gallon and climbing,” and another Colorado daily, The Gazette in Colorado Springs found some red ink to point up in capital letters “FOUR BUCKS.”

The Day in New London, Conn., squares off at the top of Page One “Gas speeds by another milestone,” an approach similar to the lead in The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla., with the head “Gas reaches $4 milestone for 1st time.”

In Kailua Kona, West Hawaii Today gives over a good part of Page One to the “Rising pain” of the $4 gallon while The Lewiston Tribune in Idaho perks interest with “Companies turn heads with offers of free gas” and the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago leads with a simple “Gas hits all-time high.” The Hutchinson News in Kansas squares off “Gas hits national average of $4 for first time,” and The Kansas City Star — that’s the one in Kansas City, Mo. — leads with “Average price in the U.S. hits $4.”

There were many others, but two Page One treatments caught our eye. The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., squares off “Wall Street is bracing for a bumpy ride today on $4 gasoline,” and The Wall Street Journal in New York leads with a four-column head “Gasoline hits average of $4 a gallon” and the drop head “Price shock among the worst in a generation will worsen the risk of recession.” Now that’s troublesome if not worrisome.

We quickly became used to Roger Bannister’s four-minute mile, a record that has been broken so many times that today it’s only a memory. Will it be that way with the $4 a gallon gasoline?

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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