A specific credible unconfirmed uncorroborated car-bomb threat to N.Y. and D.C., plain and simple

Today's tabloids, Sept. 9, 2011. ()
Tweet Share on Facebook Share on Tumblr Print

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: We'll have to wait for Sunday for the News' 80-page commemorative Sept. 11 pull-out, but today's front page is reminiscent of a certain immediately-post-attack absurdity: The credible, specific, uncorroborated threat.

In an unusual move, the paper is selling no getaways or promotional offers, and is not advertising a TV show called "The Doctors" in a strip along the bottom. It gives more gravity to the main news space, which is simply a big black box bounded at the top and bottom with red stripes; the top one reads, "FEDS REPORT CREDIBLE BUT UNCONFIRMED …," then the giant knockout-white type in a black field reads "9/11 TERROR THREAT."

"N.Y.C. & D.C. in cross-hairs of 'car bomb plot'" reads a dek; that bottom red stripe refers us to Page 6.

MORE ON CAPITAL

ADVERTISEMENT

Though the president's speech last night was enough for a large anticipatory treatment on yesterday's News front, today it merits just a blue stripe across the top: "BAM: PASS MY 450B JOBS BILL NOW!" It's a two-page spread.

The New York Post: The New Plot Against New York gets only a vertical half-page on the front of today's Post, but also with no art and a Big Headline focus.

"Feds warn of NYC 9/11 threat" reads a teaser up top; then the big black letters. "CAR BOMB ALERT."

The Post leads its story off the front and then jumps it to Page 4. "A 'specific' and 'credible' terror threat against New York and Washington, D.C. was revealed last night—involving three men who entered the country last month from Pakistan and were instructed by al Qaeda to detonate a car bomb on the 10th anniversary of 9/11," the story by Larry Celona begins. A yellow box takes up some more space at the bottom: "TEN YEARS LATER" reads some text with every type treatment—boldface, white outline, drop-shadow—available. "New York remembers: COMPLETE GUIDE: PAGES 30-33." In case you thought this was the paper's 56-page commemorative magazine (24 pages fewer than the News!), it's not; just a calendar of Sept. 11-related events around the city and programming notes for television this weekend.

And today, yet another front-page sale of a special supplement: Mark Sanchez and Eli Manning in full gear look out at us from inside a blue box, a giant National Football League logo near the bottom of the picture. A "Week one Bettors Guide" can be found in the sports section. Will there be a day soon where they've just got their news to sell on the front again?

Observations: What ruined the News yesterday ruins the Post today, decisively.

But a side-note: The Post's "threat" treatment is much more useful than the News', I think. From the front page of the Post I know exactly what the suspected threat is, and the fact that specific suspects are eyed for being involved in the plotting. Whereas there is something that nags me about the word "UNCONFIRMED" on the front of the News: Can there ever really be "confirmation," for the public, unless it actually happens?

Winner: Daily News.