June 10, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Local dailies give full coverage to weather problems in Midwest

When something really big happens in your world, it’s your local newspaper that often provides all the information you want and need — and then some. Continuing rainstorms and flooding in the Midwest made the television network news broadcasts last night, and there’s even a Page One photo of washed-away Wisconsin homes in The New York Times today with another photo and a 575-word story on Page A11. However, we thought that we would check out the dailies in three of the hard-hit states.

In Indiana, The Herald-Times in Bloomington gives over almost all of Page One to the story, with a banner head “Flooding recovery: Assessing damage, seeking assistance for flood victims,” and a photo and several sidebars with more inside. The Indianapolis Star tops Page One with a page-wide photo, two stories, another photo and a guide to “expanded coverage inside.” The Kokomo Tribune reports “Record flooding” with the drop head “Marines sandbag Elnora as new storms batter area,” while the Post-Tribune in Merrrillville has a banner “FLOODED,” a photo and teases to three inside stories. The Times in Munster warns in an off-lead story that “Indiana braces for more storms.” The South Bend Tribune plays up “Indiana copes with flooding,” with a couple of pictures.

In Iowa, The Gazette in Cedar Rapids has a banner “Iowa under siege” and above that eye-catching brief reports of the status of things in six different areas in the state, accompanied by a map to locate those places, all on a page worthy of a round of praise. The Des Moines Register devotes its entire page to flooding with the headline: “Preparing for the worst.”

Finally, we come to Wisconsin, where dailies have Page One pictures of washed-away homes on the shores of Lake Delton. Indeed, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tops its page-wide photo with the banner “Washed Away,” while the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison banners “A Catastrophe” and The Post-Crescent in Appleton reports “Deluge brings washout.” The Leader-Telegram in Eau Claire has its photo below the fold with the head “Flooding sweeps away homes,” and the Green Bay Press Gazette does the same, with the head “Overflowing lake washes away houses, hurts tourism.” The Kenosha News and the Herald Times Reporter in Manitowoc also have Page One flood coverage, leaving only the Wausau Daily Herald with nary a Page One word or photo about flooding problems elsewhere in the state.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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