August 4, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

A big day for local news for many U.S. newspapers

All news is local, especially on a Monday morning. We have an upcoming presidential election, the Olympics soon will start and the Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn died yesterday. But for many U.S. dailies, it’s a local story — feature or news — that makes a big Page One splash today.

For The Arizona Republic in Phoenix it’s “Stealing steel,” with pictures, about how thieves are going for storm grates and manhole covers. For the Opelika-Auburn News in Alabama, the big Page One feature is about “Barbers share time, talent” to give free haircuts, while the Oakland Tribune in California leads with “Berkeley arts center seeks cash.”

The two dailies in Denver — the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post — lead with a house fire killing three. The Hartford Courant in Connecticut leads with Solzhenitsyn but the big play is about a 12-year-old battling for college admission with “Brains beyond his years.” The Miami Herald leads with its investigation of how “Clinics make mint on fake HIV treatment,” and the Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus, Ga., gives over more than half of its front page to the national economic downturn and rising local unemployment with a banner headline reporting “Hope amid anxiety.”

For the South Bend Tribune in Indiana, major play, with three photos, is about an area mayor who managed to lose 80 pounds, while the Sioux City Journal in Iowa warns its readers that “It will be another hot one today” but not as bad as Sunday. American Press in Lake Charles, La., also plays up the weather, with a banner sure to attract attention: “SW La. on hurricane watch,” even as The Boston Globe squares off “A grim forecast for heating costs.”

The Mississippi Press in Pascagoula squares off the killing of a former police chief, while the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y., gives over Page One to a local hero, about “State trooper’s actions during floods become legend.” The Las Vegas Review-Journal plays up an election story, but this is about Regular Joe making a run for the state Senate. Our friends at The Monitor in McAllen, Texas, have many local stories with the biggest play given to “More people are getting health care — but is the program legal?”

The prize goes to The State in Columbia, S.C., with a headline that tops and includes the nameplate, telling all that “If it sold stock, USC football would be the state’s 19th-largest publicly traded company.”

But when we get home, we’re going to drink a toast on this 273rd anniversary of the first major, successful free-press trial verdict in this country. Here’s to John Peter Zenger!

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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