October 12, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

A bailout, by any other name, is still the same

Last night, the Senate passed a bill to help out the U.S. financial markets. Although, according to this story, the White House does not prefer the term "bailout," many newspaper editors used this word on their front pages. Let's take a look at the language.

The headlines of The Birmingham (Ala.) News, "Senate Passes $700 Billion Bailout Bill," and the Tucson Arizona Daily Star, "Senate OKs Bailout Plan," are good examples of what most newspapers did -- straightforward headlines with the word "bailout."

Some editors preferred "rescue" to "bailout." New Orleans's Times-Picayune preferred "rescue" in its headline, "Senate Passes Rescue Proposal." The Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, Mass., called the major backers of the bill "Rescue squad." Fort Myers, Fla.'s News-Press pictured a cozy time on the Senate floor: "Senate Embraces Rescue Plan."

Mary Poppins said a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, and many editors agree. Sugary language dripped from many headlines including those of Melbourne's Florida Today, " 'Sugar' helps Senate swallow bailout bill," and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.'s Sun Sentinel, "Senate's Recipe to Make Bailout Palatable: Add Sweeteners."

Many headlines featured numbers. The Laramie (Wyo.) Boomerang made "Yea 74, Nay 25" its headline, with a nod to local news by noting that both Wyoming senators voted against the bill. The amount of the bailout was referenced in many headlines, though the figure varied. Jackson, Miss.'s Clarion-Ledger called it a "$700B Bailout," while the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review noted an updated -- and inflated -- figure: "Senate passes fat $810B fix."

The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer was one of few papers to note in its headline that the bailout bill includes tax cuts. The Portsmouth (N.H.) Herald quoted a knowledgeable source, "Experts: Rescue vital."

One of our favorite places to read the news is the tabloids. The New York tabloids had a field day with the news. Long Island's Newsday used a pun: "Senate to House: Bail's in Your Court." The Daily News said, "It's on the House," and the New York Post headline read "Oink! Oink! Senate OKs rescue deal full of pork."

No matter what you want to call the bill, the bottom line and the front-page news is that the Senate approved it. The Times-Republican of Marshalltown, Iowa, cut to the chase with a big stamp-of-approval graphic on the top of its front page.  

Emily Hedges is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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