8:55 am Nov. 23, 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: In tabloid newspaper terms, today is Friday. Maybe you get the tabloids delivered to your home (though I doubt it) but probably you're no more likely to pick one up on Thanksgiving or Friday than you are on a normal Saturday or Sunday. There are lots of implications for this today, but if you'll notice, the cover of the News feels like a Friday cover today. Lots to look at, lots of recognizable faces.
Let's start with Jennifer Lopez! This picture has her in concert in a glamorous Vegas showgirl outfit taking up the righthand side of the page below the flag. (Her arm and pointing finger are extended upward; it's not easy to make a photo with this much glow in it silhouette properly over the clean text of the flag so they've put a blur all around her, which makes her look a little bit like a sexy ghost of Christmas past.) The text over her thighs reads "J.Lo video fakes the block." It's an oblique reference to her hit song "Jenny From the Block," which proclaimed her Bronx roots.
Her fidelity to those roots has always been in question by New Yorkers, but it's this very fidelity that she advertises in an ad for Fiat that shows her driving around her Bronx neighborhood taking in the sights as she says "Here, this is my world. This place inspires me to be. To be tougher. To stay sharper. To think faster … They may just be streets to you, but to me they're a playground."
Of course, Lopez herself shot the ad in California, and the shots are split so you see her in the car looking out, and then a body double and scenes from the Block are shot separately and intercut. The news originally broke yesterday on The Smoking Gun: "It is such a breathtaking assemblage of hoary urban clichés, it’s a wonder that Lopez & Co. forgot to include a shot of some grizzled pensioners playing dominoes or a Puerto Rican enjoying some shaved ice," the writer offers by way of an assessment of the ad. (The News credits the website in the second graf of the story.)
The movie magic that made J. Lo's virtual visit to Mott Haven possible is also responsible for the banner across the top of the page, above the flag, which promises "ALL-STAR HOLIDAY FLIX" in the "Now" section of the paper. On the left is the head of Kermit the Frog, and on the right is a still from Martin Scorsese's coming Christmas-season kid-flick, Hugo. Movies on the front: Very Friday.
All of this stuff hooked around the flag kind of makes the two main stories in the news hole feel like coats buried in an overburdened coat-rack. I keep having to look back and remind myself what the main hed is on today's News front. That's partly because I'm not that interested in the underlying story (no points off for the News there: It's a popular topic.) It's about alleged mobsters under indictment getting bail agreements to spend Thanksgiving at home. It's labeled inside as an exclusive (why not on the front?) and it's typical John Marzulli fare, which is to say very well done.
"Defense lawyer Joseph Corozzo got a 12-hour furlough for reputed mob associate Carmine Persico to spend Thursday at his girlfriend's Long Island home," he writes.
Further digging around in court records finds Vito Cortesiano, under indictment for racketeering, will fly to Puerto Rico with his fiancee and future in-laws. Two other reputed mobsters under house arrest were given dispensations to go to their mothers' houses. "What good boys!" Marzulli writes.
And the hed is: "TURKEY FELLAS." Because if it's about mobsters, you can just put any word in place of the "Good" in "Goodfellas."
There's also a bar wedged between J. Lo's armpit, TURKEY FELLAS and the flag, set in Jets green, with silhouettes of Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan, with the words "Rex's QB mind game" in knockout-white type between the two.
New York Post: Kermit the Frog's head is about half the size on the cover of today's Post as on the News, but that's just because he is sharing a giant strip across the top of the front page with Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy. "Holiday movie reviews" is the headline, set bizarrely in knockout-white type with a thick blue outline and a deep drop-shadow. "A REALLY 'PIG' SHOW: SEE PULSE" reads a red bar below with knockout-white type.
There's football here, too! But instead of trying to make a story out of it they just advertise more pullout-reference fare: "NFL & College bettor's guides." How often does this have to take up space on the front during football season?
The main story, though, is about the announcement coming from the Yankees yesterday that prices are going up 33 percent—for seats in the bleachers and other undesirable areas. Prices for field MVP seats will in some cases actually go down! This strikes at the heart of team-fan relationship. "I'm horrified!" one fan told the Post. "I can't believe they're doing this, especially after they didn't win it [the World Series in 2011]." "CHEAP SHOT" reads the big black type in the main news hole. There's some lede text and a little Yankees symbol; "Yanks hike 'bad' seats only."
Observations: Holiday movies, football previews and betting guides aren't just decisions about giving you a paper that's about the coming holiday weekend. It's also because advertisers are keenly aware of Black Friday, and it's possible that you won't look at any print ads between this morning and then. And so, on my copy of the News, for instance, Kermit was partially covered by a special sticker advertising the fact that stores at Queens Center mall will open at midnight tomorrow night, moving the Black Friday experience up several hours. There's similar advertising throughout both papers. It's also a big weekend for movies, which makes it a big Wednesday for movie ads.
So what we're really talking about is TURKEY FELLAS versus CHEAP SHOT. To me, playing the Yankees news so big adds only outrage, not interest or information. It could have been smaller, as could the movie reviews and the bettor's guide ad, and made room for something else. On the other hand, as I said, the front page of the News is so cluttered today I think the very good mob story is buried, and the headline is horrible. Still, every single one of the stories is better, and I think you can tell by looking at it.
Winner: Daily News.