11:22 am Dec. 8, 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?
Daily News: I'm trying to figure out the calculation behind the full-front-page takeover of the News today by the very sad story of a woman who died after giving birth to twins at N.Y.U.-Langone Medical Center the day after Thanksgiving.
The story runs nearly two weeks after it happened, yet the hospital as yet has no answer for why Michal Friedman died, and the News doesn't have any information about what her condition was immediately before her death except that there was postoperative bleeding after a Caesarean that was performed to deliver the twins because one was a breech baby. Dying in childbirth is rare in the United States. A sidebar to the story, which mostly is an interview with Friedman's widower, reports that the risk of death for women who undergo a planned Caesarian section (as opposed to an emergency procedure) is "about six in 100,000." But since we don't know whether the C-section led to her death, it's impossible to say how relevant that is.
I think the reason for the story is just the harrowing interview, during which the reporter relates that Jay Snyder, the husband, several times broke down in tears. "TRAGIC TWINS" reads the knockout-white headline over a picture of Snyder cradling his two infants. "Mom wanted them so badly—then, in an instant, she was gone."
New York Post: There are two reasons to put a heart with a lace edge on the front page of your newspaper. One is that it is Valentine's Day, the other is that you have a story about former Mets manager Bobby Valentine, who was recently hired to manage the Red Sox.
Valentine, who is on the hammy side, by traditional baseball-manager standards, is taking his crosstown-rivalry act on the road. "I hate the Yankees," he said in a 30-minute session with reporters yesterday. "I don't want to waste this valuable time talking about the Yankees." But he can spare just a little more time for the Evil Empire: "This is too valuable," he continued. "I told Joe Girardi I used to love them, but now I hate them."
"Bobby's valentine," reads the yellow text between a head shot of Valentine and a valentine with text set in a Yankees-Coca Cola-wedding invitation typeface that reads "I hate the Yankees."
Apparently in the opinion of the Post, Alec Baldwin getting kicked off a plane on Tuesday became bigger news yesterday because he deleted his Twitter account. That's what we're left to think now that the paper has come around to putting the actor's story on the front page today.
Granted, Twitter provides lots of pun fodder for the copywriters (although the front-page headline is not its best): "ALEC @ TWIT'S END." I think just "TWIT'S END" would have been better? The first two words in the article are "Freaking flier," but that probably doesn't work for the hed either, since it was the freak-out on the plane that is presumably yesterday's news. But what about the inside headline, "ALEC'S TWEET SURRENDER"? Or elsewhere, "TWITTER QUITTER"? There isn't much to this except that Baldwin shut down his Twitter account because it got too many spam followers. He will surely open a new one when this blows over. Expect another Post cover story when he does. (RETWIT!)
Observations: Last year while we were trying to make a certain business deal, a friend was explaining to us that as of the end of April everything kind of shuts down until September. Then there are the Jewish holidays, then people start getting absorbed in preparation for Thanksgiving. After that, there's the holidays, when nobody is around, and in the new year it takes a while for things to heat up again. Everyone goes to the tropics in the early spring, then in late spring it's time to gear up for summer. (We eventually made our deal in August.)
So I guess it wouldn't be completely ridiculous to excuse the architects of the tabloid covers for having a slow news quarter, despite the fact that it's the fall, when lots of things ought to be happening.
Nonetheless, although it's a little upsetting to be forced into the position of saying it: The sad story of Michal Friedman isn't news. It is especially not news because we don't know what happened yet.
And, sorry again, neither is the Post's pick-up of Bobby Valentine's "I hate the Yankees" act, paired with a day-old story about Alec Baldwin that was on the cover of the News yesterday.
You could skip everything on the cover of either paper and not miss anything. Except if you've got the Post, please look at Page 20.
Winner: Daily News.