November 8, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

From money news to crime, papers report it and readers buy it

U.S. newspapers reported declining circulation in spring and summer — sales down about 3% from the year before. They cited changes in distribution and a cutback in unprofitable circulation, but no one disputes the impact of online news.

A few newspapers made slight gains or retained circulation, and even that is good news. Let’s look today at the front pages of winners in weekday paid circulation.

USA Today, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times and St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times were the largest newspapers in the plus column.

From its beginning 25 years ago, USA Today has made air travel one of its signature topics. Today’s front page led with an analysis of aviation-safety records. “Fatigue key to air crew errors,” it said.

The Los Angeles Times said tens of thousands of items are missing from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The Philadelphia Inquirer pictured a “final salute” to a slain police officer, while the St. Pete Times reported: “Hulk Hogan’s son charged in crash.”

The Times Union of Albany, N.Y., gained paid circulation for the third straight six-month period. The newspaper reported today that a local town will have to wait to a week to see if an eight-decade GOP monopoly on its government will end.

Among small newspapers, the Dothan (Ala.) Eagle, the News Herald of Panama City, Fla., and the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald gained circulation. The Eagle today outlined a “grim situation” for peanut farmers facing drought, while the News Herald explained the “Cold, hard facts” of energy prices. The Banner-Herald reported opposition to murder charges against a local soldier.

While print circulation declines, online readership shows promise. For the first time, the combined readership of print and online was reported for about 200 newspapers. Topping that list was the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle, which featured a “Girls vs. Boys” headline on a package on academic disparity. The Times-Dispatch in Richmond, Va., also stands tall on the list. Today it pictured a Norfolk, Va., deputy who will be recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the country’s tallest man.

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

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