August 7, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Reports dig into case against anthrax scientist

Reporting is about answering questions, but the country’s largest newspapers said today that questions lingered in the case against a government scientist accused in the 2001 anthrax attacks.

“Officials Detail Evidence, but Questions Linger,” The Washington Post said in its lead story. USA Today devoted its cover story to the accusations against Bruce Ivins, who committed suicide: “Questions linger as feds say Ivins was lone killer.” The New York Times reported: FBI “Cites Signs of Bizarre Behavior; Skeptics Remain.”

The Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D., noted that anthrax had been mailed to the office of its U.S. senator, exposing employees. “Sioux Falls native, victim wants briefing on investigation,” the Argus said. Anthrax also was mailed to Florida, where The Palm Beach Post used as its headline: “Scientist mailed anthrax, feds say.”

In a sidebar, The Washington Post said: “Acquaintances and Counselor Recall the Scientist’s Dark Side.” Details about the scientist’s unusual behavior and circumstantial evidence gave a sensational tone to the story. The Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald labeled its package “Delusional and deadly.” From the ever-flamboyant New York Post: “Dr. Doom’s descent into madness.”

The number eight was drawn on the San Francisco Chronicle to illustrate tomorrow’s lucky day: “Lucky 8/8/08 — believers to wed on auspicious day.” In nearby San Jose, the Mercury News used Olympic rings to form “8 8 8” for a package on the Olympics and the “Power of 8”: “Asia’s lucky number has inspired China to start the Games at 8:08 p.m., 8/8/08.”

But there was no luck for Favre fans in Wisconsin, as the Packers traded star quarterback Brett Favre to the New York Jets. “Jets Get Brett,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said. A sad day in Green Bay was greeted by a black front page, as the Press-Gazette used a black background to set off a photo of the longtime Packer and a single story. In Packer green, The Reporter in Fond du Lac said: “He’s gone.” The Hattiesburg American pictured Favre as he returned to his Mississippi hometown. From Favre’s new workplace, metro New York, the Daily News declared: “Gang Green trades draft pick for QB legend.”

Serving a military community, The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash., often reports on the war on terror. Today, the “War on Chafing” appears on its front page, as a local mail carrier “vows to push for kilts as Postal Service uniforms.” The News Tribune pictured the postman who “thinks outside of inseams.”

Kate Kennedy is front-pages editor at the Newseum.

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