July 23, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Hello, Dolly!

Hurricane Dolly is strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico. A Category One storm as of yesterday, Dolly is expected to make landfall today near the Texas/Mexico border. In the process the storm is making front-page news.

Let’s take a virtual tour of the coastal region. You can follow along on the Newseum’s Front Pages map.

Dolly grips the attention of newspapers printed in its path. In Brownsville, Texas, the bad news is bilingual. The Brownsville Herald gives Dolly its entire front page, including three articles and an editor’s note announcing the closure of the paper’s offices. Also using the whole front page: the city’s Spanish-language El Nuevo Heraldo and, just across the border, Expreso de Matamoros.

With winds of 85 miles per hour and potential rainfall of 15 inches, the storm threatens to burst levees in the densely populated Rio Grande Valley. There, in McAllen, Texas, The Monitor warns that Dolly is “Bearing Down” and the front page lays out a timeline for landfall.

To the south and probably out of harm’s way, Expreso in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, notes that Dolly has its eye on Matamoros. And north along the Texas coast the Victoria Advocate beseeches “Stay Away, Dolly.” The San Antonio Express-News warns that this hurricane is “Not to be taken lightly”; however, the Houston Chronicle’s front page claims “South Texas ready as Dolly descends.” Finally, with one headline The Beaumont Enterprise sums up both the much-needed rainfall and the potential flooding as “A blessing, a curse.”

As we move out of the Lone Star state, coverage moves from front-and-center to the margins. In Lake Charles, La., the American Press has an article at bottom left. In Lafayette, La., The Daily Advertiser covers Dolly across the bottom of the front page. And although three years ago Hurricane Katrina broke levees and inundated New Orleans, The Times-Picayune only teases Dolly readers over to Page 2.

East out of Louisiana, even along the Gulf Coast, Dolly disappears. The storm is nowhere to be found on the front page of Biloxi’s Sun Herald, Pascagoula’s The Mississippi Press, or Fort Walton Beach’s Northwest Florida Daily News.

Hicks Wogan is a staff assistant at the Newseum.

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