October 30, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

What’s in a name? For newspapers, names can be unusual and different

Learned tomes have no doubt been written about American newspaper names and how they got that way. We have worked only for newspapers with standard names, such as Sun and Telegram and World and Ledger, so we find it fascinating to look at the unusual nameplates on our Web site. Today we thought that we would check out a few of those unusual-titled dailies to see whether names make a difference.

The Record Searchlight in Redding in Northern California plays up “Dangerous Liaisons” and “How you can tell if your daughter is in an abusive relationship,” while The Signal in the Santa Clarita Valley in Southern California tops Page One with “Garbage Strike Frustrates Residents” and the Daily Breeze in Torrance in Los Angeles County has a Page One piece about how the newspaper is changing. Back east, the Hartford Courant in Connecticut — did you know that one of the definitions of “courant” is “a circulating gazette of news; a newspaper”? — gives over much of Page One to the death of a former governor.

The Times-Picayune in New Orleans — to us “picayune” is something of little value but perhaps there’s a bigger meaning — leads with a problem in the district attorney’s office, while The Daily Reflector in Greenville, N.C., is pleased to report “Missing man found safe in own garage.” In Canton, Ohio, The Repository — there’s a lovely name — squares off a story with the head “Want to run for office?” and adds that “It can cost thousands, or not a penny, to get elected.” The Plain Dealer in Cleveland touts ethical questions about online organ donor use, while The Vindicator in Youngstown, Ohio, warns readers that gasoline prices are going up and The Post-Crescent in Appleton, Wis., — Crescent? — plays up the Packers beating the Broncos.

There are many more interesting newspaper names but we’ll close with a newspaper in New Braunfels, Texas, that boasts the name Herald-Zeitung. But “zeitung” is German for newspaper so we checked. Yes, the town was founded in 1845 by Germans and the newspaper reportedly was published in German until World War II. The name didn’t change but the stories are all in English, all American, about Halloween, high school bands and an accused killer escaping from jail.

Names are interesting, but news is news whatever you are called.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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