‘Kettled’ or not, 700 arrested protesters is a lot, and it happened right here

Today's tabloids, Oct. 3, 2011. ()
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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: Over the weekend, the Post went big on Occupy Wall Street's migration to the Brooklyn Bridge, with a two-page protestacular and a full-page photo of the bridge thronged with protesters under the headline "S#!T HITS THE SPAN." Today, they're on it again, but without the art.

A black box at the bottom of the page carries knockout-white type reads "FAIR WARNING." "Videos back cops in 700 bridge busts." They're referring to two videos released by the New York Police Department purporting to show that they warned protesters that if they went onto the bridge they'd be arrested; about 3,000 did, which means that about three quarters weren't. But there were wide charges carried across Twitter, Facebook and by reporters on the scene that protesters complained they were being "kettled," or induced to enter an area (the roadway of the bridge) that was forbidden, then trapped there to be arrested en masse. It's this accusation the police confronted yesterday with the videos.

But the news today about the protesters on the bridge (which gave the Post its cover image yesterday) is not the eye-catcher on the page. That distinction belongs in small measure to Derek Jeter, pictured at bat in a little box to the left of the main news story, under the words "Tigers trip Yanks" (the Yankees lost game 2 of their American League Division Series against the Tigers 5-3, evening the series at 1-1). But it belongs in far greater measure to the chronically underestimated Hakeem Nicks, pictured today in an end-zone victory lap. "Desert miracle" reads the headline; "Giants' heart-stopping comeback vs. Arizona." No reason to paraphrase the significance of the game:

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It was a wild finish and a dramatic victory for the Giants, who are 3-1 after losing their season opener. The Giants took the field after two of their main adversaries in the NFC East, the Eagles and Cowboys, both suffered fourth-quarter collapses at home in dreadful losses. The Redskins beat the Rams, meaning the Giants gained ground on both the Eagles and Cowboys and kept pace with the Redskins atop the division.

Daily News: It wasn't actually the last play of the game when Manning found Nicks with three minutes remaining, but it was the game-winner. And so the News has what it seems obvious to put on the cover: Nicks catching the ball. It's a nicely composed action shot, with the Cardinals' cornerback Patrick Peterson obviously helpless to stop him. But somewhat deadening the action is the tremendous amount of hard-to-read yellow text over the photo. "Giants' 2 late TDs stun Cards, 31-27." It's the kind of print headline you expect to appear in a nice italic serif font in black over white on a broadsheet page, with the photo nicely confined to a corner of the article, not a tabloid front-page action shot from a thrilling game moment. Why not "RAZING ARIZONA" or some such, and leave the details for a dek on the back-page sports cover?

Still it's a great picture, and leaves the News the visual space to explore Governor Chris Christie's presidential prospects with mostly a type treatment. "BORN TO RUN?" is the headline. And while I hate question-mark headlines in these instances as a rule, it works here (especially with the Bruce Springsteen reference). "Christie reviews troops as buzz builds for Prez bid."

All the piece really is is an account of Christie's visit to a Sea Girt, N.J. demonstration of the New Jersey National Guard. He's said to be looking "presidential" during this event (even though it is explicitly a statewide event that would only ever feature the governor as its guest of honor). It's really just an excuse to buzz about all the buzz, which, notably, the Post has been faster on than the News.

Finally, and here the timing is unideal: A big Yankees poster, again! On a day when the Yankees are coming off a loss, the tone is missing something here. I guess it's early days still.

Observations: Well, I'm torn on the photography: The better photo is on the News but it's almost ruined in the way it's treated; "Desert miracle" at least gives the Post's slightly less great photo all the dignity it can. There's no way that a local tabloid can justify a headscratcher about Christie tied to an event in Sea Girt as important local news compared to the arrest of 700 protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge either, is there? And of course, even a little box about the Yankees' loss looks more relevant today than a collectible poster.

Winner: The New York Post.