September 17, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Insurer AIG makes national headlines with historic bailout

The federal government took control of insurer AIG late Tuesday in a move that generated top headlines across the U.S.

In its lead story, The Washington Post noted American Insurance Group’s ties to subprime home mortgages. The move by the Feds, the newspaper said, “effectively nationalizes one of the central institutions in the crisis that has swept through markets this month.”

As to why the government took action, The Philadelphia Inquirer said, “Fed sought to avert a global financial crisis.” “Emergency loan intended to stave off wider economic collapse,” The Arizona Republic in Phoenix said.

In a reference to recent bailouts of Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Chicago Tribune said, “Fed rides to rescue yet again.”

Word came after the evening news in the East, giving front pages an advantage in reporting the action. The New York Times illustrated “A.I.G.’s Troubles and Why They Matter.” The Hartford (Conn.) Courant broke out the terms of the bailout. With AIG less than a household name, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland answered the question, “What is AIG?” (“It’s the largest insurance company in the world.”)

The Providence (R.I.) Journal localized the story by reporting on a “State SWAT team formed to protect $130 million with AIG.” The Honolulu Advertiser said, “Rescue loan eases fears of Hawai’i units, for now.” From Delaware, The News Journal of Wilmington did a staff-written story and broke out the number of AIG employees and subsidiaries incorporated in its state.

The Wall Street Journal noted the “Historic Move Would Cap 10 Days That Reshaped U.S. Finance.”

Besides reporting the $85-billion AIG bailout, the Los Angeles Times bulleted daily economic developments, including a slight stock market rebound and a Federal Reserve decision not to lower interest rates. The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., offered “Three reasons to feel good about yesterday …” “And three reasons to not feel so good…”

Stripped across the bottom of The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post was a primer on the financial crisis and “How we got here.”

kkennedy@freedomforum.org Kate Kennedy is front-pages editor at the Newseum.

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