May 9, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Man vs. man, man vs. nature, bear vs. moose, all on Page One

Six N.J. men arrested in an alleged terrorist plot against Fort Dix took top spots in many U.S. dailies, especially in the Garden State and its environs. No photos of the men were available, so Page One editors had to make do with photos of the base and artist’s drawings of the suspects. Some of the more interesting headlines and story angles came from outside N.J.: “Rats in a Trap,” New York Daily News. Several regional dailies seized opportunities to localize the story: “Dover air base considered by suspects detained in N.J.,” The News Journal, Wilmington, Del.; “Six Islamic militants trained in Poconos, FBI says,” The Morning Call, Allentown, Pa. Even the Elkton, Md., Cecil Whig got into the act: “Fort Dix terror plot hits close to home. How close? 85 miles.”

Other states grappled with a more frightening foe: Mother Nature. Several California newspapers ran large photos of a picturesque but deadly fire rolling through Griffith Park. Floridians were fighting fires, too. Front pages warned readers that smoke from fires in Georgia and northern Florida were being moved by coastal winds into the Tampa Bay area, hurting air quality: “AIR ON SIDE OF CAUTION,” The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune. Those same winds were causing damaging surf: “TROUBLE BLOWS IN: FIRES, WAVES,” The Florida Times-Union.

The Anchorage Daily News didn’t have terrorists, fires or threatening waves leading its front page. Instead, it concentrated on the eternal battle of man vs. beast. In “Drivers, beware,” reporter Brandon Loomis told readers that it’s “roadkill season.” But in Alaska, roadkill apparently doesn’t mean dogs, cats or possums. It means moose. Twinned with the roadkill story, the News pointed readers to a new video, just posted on its Web site: “Homer couple watched 500-pound grizzly attack and kill an adult moose in their driveway.”

Christy Mumford Jerding is the editorial director of the Freedom Forum.

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