7:46 am Jun. 20, 20112
Each day, the New York tabloids vie to sell readers at the newsstands on outrageous headlines, dramatic photography, and, occasionally, great reporting. Who is today's winner?
The New York Post: Today, the Post would like to introduce you to Rory McIlroy! That is, if you're not a golf fan, you probably weren't paying attention while he pantsed the entire history of the U.S. Open yesterday, setting a new record of 16 under par, destroying Tiger Woods' previous mark of 12 under. And he's from the tiny nation of Northern Ireland, which--despite an actually very strong history of sports heroism--is not particularly well known to Post readers for anything but The Troubles.
This particular sport has been looking for its next Great Boy since Tiger Woods got bad at golf and boring even as a bad guy in real life. "Eire apparent" reads the knockout-white, black-outlined, drop-shadowed headline over a photo of McIlroy, who looks an awful lot like a more athletic version of the young Michael Kitchen.
"Rory atop gold world with record Open win," reads the dek. Perhaps the most important note on the sale of the McIlroy story: the caption on the photo, which begins "Move over, Tiger!" and continues to misspell the golfer's last name as "McIlvoy."
No matter how much space the Big Picture story takes on the front, the eye is always drawn to the heavy black text; so the rather short sale of the horrifying story from yesterday about the robbery at a Long Island drug store in which four people were killed, given one large-type word to sell it, is still the "lead" story on this front. "MASSACRE" read those letters; the dek is a straight shot: "4 slain in LI pharmacy rob; shooter escapes." The Post focuses on one victim on the cover: "teen cashier Jennifer Mejia," pictured in a prom gown and pearls, a tiara set on her head.
Daily News: The News goes bigger on the crime story. A black field dominating the right two-thirds of the page vertically has knockout white text. "Rx FOR HORROR" reads the headline, with the Rx part set in an unfortunate non-matching face in red as a real "Rx" symbol. It's a bit of kitsch that probably should be left out in a story that's really meant to bring out terror and pity, not excitement or "humor."
Somehow, in two deks, separated by a red hairline, the paper manages little more information than the Post did in a line. "Four slain in massacre at L.I. drugstore" reads the first; "Hunt for sicko in robbery gone wrong." And once again here, the main interest is focused on a photo of Mejia and its caption: "Bubbly store employee Jennifer Mejia was murdered just days before her HS graduation."
But there are two other stories for sale on the News front today. One, occupying the remainder of the vertical space along the left margin, features a big picture of Yankee Nick Swisher, cropped so that he's doing, well, nothing in particular. It was his three-run rally that gave the Yanks an insuppressible lead that resulted in their 10-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Of course anything can happen, but were the Cubs really standing in the Yankees' way, notwithstanding all the difficulties the team's been facing in recent weeks?
Along the bottom, a green strip with strange lighter-green text advertises the news that Michael Bloomberg's mother, famed for her longevity, has died at the age of 102.
Observations: The Post sports section goes a little nuts over this story—but, why is it on the cover? I suspect it's the "Move over, Tiger" angle. So why not make it the coverline? The back can sell the straight sports story to readers accustomed to looking there for big sports stories, can't it? Maybe when McIlroy gets big with a general audience in New York, the Post wants to be able to say they were there? Don't get me wrong: The Post can make a decision, for sure, and declare their own superstars. The thing is, you declare a sports star purely on their performance on the back page, right? Unless he's playing for the home team, we need another angle for the front page, if the story is going to dominate.
I don't think there can be much question that the Post wins, however, on its treatment of the drugstore robbery. There's altogether too much "treatment" getting in the way of a clear message on the News front. Weren't the black and red unnecessary? In a horrifying crime story like this, what can really beat black-on-white, an unbordered photo, and plain old bullet-pointed dek? Also, "Rx for horror" sounds to me like the name of the Lifetime Original Movie version of the story. This was, as the Post calls it, a massacre, and it's fresh. Let's just tell the reader what happened.
What's left to compare is the Yankees' win over the Cubs to the Post's overkill on McIlroy. And there, I have to begrudgingly give it to the Post, which at least has something new to say.
Winner: The New York Post.