September 18, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Red ink and a stressed-out broker

An Associated Press photo of stressed-out New York Stock Exchange trader Christopher Crotty told the story of Wednesday’s financial crisis for newspapers across the country.

“What a mess,” said the Los Angeles Daily News, with a powerful package that laid out in words and images what the news meant to homeowners and investors. “Prices plummet to record levels throughout Southern California, with foreclosures accounting for almost half the sales.”

“And you thought Monday was bad,” The Oakland (Calif.) Tribune said of the second-biggest drop in the Dow since Sept. 11, 2001. Both of the drops occurred this week.

“New lows usher in new era,” said The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee, with a package of charts and graphs on the bad news’s ripple effects — from the rising price of gold to how many Americans will be able to afford retirement.

The San Diego Union-Tribune was more animated. “RUNNING SCARED,” said the banner headline, with the pullout quote, “It’s like having a fire in a cinema. Everybody is rushing to the door.”

Looking for a bright spot, The Washington Times quoted former presidential candidate (and millionaire) Steve Forbes as saying that the “Crisis Could ‘Quickly Pass.’”

“Wall Street Wallows in Financial Quagmire,” said The Daytona Beach News-Journal in Florida.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.’s Sun Sentinel had an innovative if unnerving front page with lots of jagged red ink to reflect the Dow’s decline and three ominous headlines at the top of the page: “Lockdown drama in Boca,” “We’re the front line in AIDS war” and “Ike victims might have washed out to sea.” That’s before you even get to “Crisis on Wall Street: The Dow’s wild ride.”

The Idaho Statesman in Boise warned that “Highway projects could fall victim to tough times.” The Chicago Sun-Times said the stock market turmoil, gas prices and losses by the Cubs and Sox added up to one big “STRESS FEST.”

Outside the world of finance, the Detroit Free Press scored the first interview with Elizabeth Edwards since her husband, John, confessed to having an affair: “Former political wife is Mom first.”

prhule@newseum.org Patty Rhule is a project editor at the Newseum.

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