8:01 am Jul. 18, 2011
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?
Daily News: I'd like to begin with the inscrutable pairing of two articles in today's News for a "cover package."
Britain's Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson resigned yesterday, as the News puts it, "amid questions of how cozy the cops had gotten with Murdoch's minions." (This is not precise, but we'll leave it there.)
And erstwhile sports columnist Mike Lupica weighs in for the front page on his personal 2013 mayoral endorsement of New York's police commissioner Ray Kelly (who is not running, at least yet). An attempt at literariness early on in the endorsement comes off awkwardly: "Here was Kelly talking of blood on a refrigerator door of a man named Levi Aron and cutting boards and Dumpsters." But he hits his stride ultimately.
Together, these stories become "GOOD COP … BAD COP." Under "GOOD COP" a dek reads, "Lupica: Kelly top pick for city's next mayor." (There's a small photo of Kelly's head hanging around the text.) Under "BAD COP" a dek reads, "London's chief quits over phone-hack scandal."
The top half of the page gives us our drama, though the news quotient is low. "YANKS CRUISE WITH HUGHES" reads the condensed yellow all-caps type set over a great big picture of Phil Hughes, who "held the Blue Jays to two runs over six innings, leading the Yankees to a 7-2 win Sunday and a split of the four-game series with Toronto."
The News is still going big with skybox offers—did you want a 70 percent discount on the Circle Line, or to win tickets to see a bio-musical of blues legend Bessie Smith? Get thee to the newsstand!
The New York Post: Well, at least the News is talking about New York today. That's something the Post doesn't do today, unless you count its flogging of its "Liberty Medals" (which take up a small box on the lower left of the front).
The main hed is given to what the paper is characterizing as a concession by Barack Obama to Republicans to raise the debt ceiling without a "revenue portion" in the deal. (A "revenue portion" would mean sunsetting a series of temporary tax cuts that were erected during the Bush administration, and adding some new taxes.)
"O BLINKS" reads the heavy black type at the bottom of the page; the dek is "Open to GOP's debt plan with no tax hike." "The president is losing this game of chicken" reads the triumphant-sounding lede sentence in a box of text that jumps off the front page.
For visual drama, we have a photo of Casey Anthony that looks a bit like a photo I tried to take of a raccoon in my parents' backyard in the dark with my Iphone this weekend. Anthony appears to be leaping into the backseat of a car. "Casey's clean getaway" reads the knockout-white type superimposed upon the photo.
Inside is a no-news rehash story from other sources, largely. Anthony is (surprise!) responding to death threats by going somewhere her lawyers won't disclose. I suppose it's a "clean getaway" if the torches and pitchforks don't actually blister and pierce your heels as you leap into a backseat headfirst on your way out of Florida?
Observations: Well, this is what you call a real Sunday-for-Monday day. It generally means that the weekday staff, the "regular rotation," didn't have anything pressing enough to make them file over the weekend, so the Page One folks are left with little to go on. At least that's my read on these front pages. Sports scores, wire reports, endorsements, and "weekend cable-news cycle in review" accounts for, yes, the entirety of both front pages. What are we to judge on?
I don't honestly believe anyone interested enough in the debt ceiling debate to read about it at all wants to get their information from the Post. For almost the opposite reason, the same is true of the Casey Anthony case. I think the Stephenson story is a no-go; I can see why Murdoch's main New York tabloid competitor can't resist but it's a bit of a remote story for readers, isn't it?
At least Phil Hughes is a local celebration, and Lupica's pick of Ray Kelly for top dog at City Hall will resonate nicely with the News' readers' worship of the civic-clerical class of firefighters and cops. But really, this isn't much fun.
Winner: Daily News.