December 6, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Massacre at the mall brings holiday horror to Midwest

A holiday ritual — shopping for gifts — was shattered in the heartland Wednesday as a young gunman opened fire in a busy mall. “Deathly chill grips Omaha at its heart,” the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald said.

The newspaper paired a story summarizing the events with a profile of the young man who killed himself after shooting eight people. The newspaper’s lead headline was a quote that illustrated the city’s disbelief: “‘It happened to us.’”

Just an hour earlier, President Bush was in Omaha for a fundraiser and tour of a health clinic. The newspaper provided extensive Web coverage of the visit, but the mall shooting filled the printed page.

With news of the shooting breaking in the afternoon, this morning’s front pages sought to offer details. The gunman “had been fired from his job at McDonald’s,” the World-Herald said. “Shooter with troubled past called ‘a good kid,’” the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star reported. "Rifle used, 19-year-old left suicide note," the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader said. “Mall killer sought notoriety,” The Indianapolis Star said.

Photos helped tell the story. “Rifleman on Rampage Shoots Down Shoppers," The Kansas City (Mo.) Star said in a reverse headline. It displayed a photo of shoppers — arms raised in the air — leaving an upscale department store. A photo of a department store employee being comforted by her daughter appeared in The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle. Those and other photos of shocked shoppers appeared on many U.S. front pages. The Daily News of New York chose a photo of the wounded and said: "Massacre at the Mall."

In nearby states, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch broke out key events. The Denver Post printed a World-Herald story and referred to its own Web coverage of the gunman’s past. The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, used maps to locate the mall and shooting scene.

Today’s other big story: A deal to freeze interest rates for homeowners troubled by adjustable mortgages will be announced today. The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk used a percentage sign, a for-sale sign and dollar signs to illustrate the story.

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

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