11:44 am Aug. 30, 20111
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: I'm not sure to begin with the story of Nisreen Mansour al Forgani, the 19-year-old Libyan member of the women's Popular Guard. Actually I am: With Britain's Daily Mail.
The paper published an interview with the woman, who is presently being held by Libyan rebels after leaping from a second-story window of a Khadafy stronghold. Little information is given about the circumstances of her interview with the Mail, but the Post's entire story is culled from it: How she claims she was forced at gunpoint to execute "10, perhaps 11" rebels over the course of three days and was raped by her commanding officer, Mansour Dau.
But the real reason this story is on the front is because it has legs—literally. "The Libyan beauty who executed 10 prisoners" reads the knockout-white, black-outlined and drop-shadowed type over a picture of al Forgani, whose face is indeed strikingly beautiful but whose other features are heavily obscured in a headscarf and military garb. It appears she may be holding a rifle, but that part of the picture is beneath the text and appears to have been blurred to make the type read better over it.
"Jets jolt Jints" is the grudging headline on a box a little more than half the width of the page's space under the flag and less than half the height, a clash of blue and green jerseys; the Jets beat the Giants, which will give rise to much more griping about Eli Manning's non-elite status.
But things get philosophical in the main news sale, indicated by the giant heavy black type reading "MORE 'ZERO.'" "9/11 aid zone grows 10 blocks" reads the dek, next to a map of lower Manhattan outlining the original area in which residents qualified to receive federal compensation for illnesses suffered after the terror attacks of Sept. 11. Where people who lived and worked north of Reade Street previously hadn't qualified, the zone is now extended northward all the way to Canal under a revision to the Zadroga healthcare bill.
Daily News: In what's billed as an exclusive, the News reports that police have determined there are links between several attempted rape cases in Brooklyn that indicate one rapist is targeting the borough. To say that he is "terrorizing" Brooklyn, though, is a bit problematic: Presumably there was no terror caused by any single criminal until the police made the link and gave the story to the News.
It is, of course, an important service to point out to women in neighborhoods that feel relatively safe at night, like south Park Slope, that a criminal is haunting the area. But it's quite an antique-looking thing to extract such obvious thriller-chiller energy for one's front page with a story like this. It's reminiscent of Summer of Sam or something, really. And of course there isn't much art for this, although I'd argue the police sketch blown up big would have been more of a public service than this stark warning, in giant knockout-white letters on a black field, that reads "B'KLYN RAPE FEAR GROWS: Fiend's 5th victim is in Park Slope."
There are yet more photos from the aftermath of Irene, displayed over four pages inside the paper and advertised on the cover with a red box that reads "HOW DRY WE ARE!"
And the News' take on the Jets-Giants game? "Jets best flat Giants." Takes a while to parse but you'll get it, if it strikes you as being worthwhile to get.
Observations: As much as I hate to say it, this stark news of a rapist hunting down victims in Brooklyn is a good sale. As fascinating as the gun-toting Libyan beauty is, it's not an exclusive to the Post and frankly, it's Libya, too far removed from the daily lives of most tabloid readers to compete with the prospect of a real live criminal in the neighborhood. The Zadroga bill thing may be meaningful, but it is a snooze.
Winner: Daily News.