July 17, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

For Page One, numbers count

Numbers don’t lie but can they sell newspapers?

All sorts of numbers bounce off the front pages of today’s newspapers — big numbers, small numbers, odd numbers, even numbers and many with a dollar sign in front of them.

Several California papers lead with depressing new statistics that show a 25% dropout rate among high school students. “1 in 4 students in state drop out,” proclaims the banner headline of the San Jose Mercury News.

The Reading (Pa.) Eagle addresses dour economic news with the headline, “1-2 Punch for June: Prices up, wages fall.”

On a happier note, “60 Years, together” is the header of the lead story in the Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin profiling three couples celebrating their 60th wedding anniversaries.

Speaking of anniversaries, the front page of the Corvallis (Ore.) Gazette-Times notes that “Da Vinci Days turns 20 today” and the Kane County (Ill.) Chronicle declares, “Kane County kicks off 140th fair.”

As for dollar signs, The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., writes about “A $3 Million Firefight” in the region. The New Haven (Conn.) Register weighs in on a police scandal in nearby Madison. “Cop Scandal Tab: $337,000,” reads the banner headline.

A big “55” is the headline of The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune, which looks at the history of the national 55 mph speed limit and why, despite high gas prices, we’ll probably never go back to it.

And don’t be scared of the scary-looking villain with the painted face that adorns many front pages today. That’s the late actor Heath Ledger as The Joker in the new Batman movie opening tomorrow. Many papers use his image to tease their review of the movie, which the film industry hopes will draw, well, big numbers.

John Maynard is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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