12:24 pm Jun. 26, 20122
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: It's the time of year for Big Tests for high school students, which means it's the season of cheating.
I always get a slight chuckle out of the way stories like this one are played: A student took pictures of three Regents tests and sent the answers to an unspecified number of students at Stuyvesant High School. He's been expelled. That's the story.
But the fact that Stuyvesant is the most selective public high school in the city is supposed to add shock value to the story. "EXCLUSIVE" reads the white type (unaccountably, as is the News' wont, in a military-stenciling typeface) on a red stripe at the top of the box touting the story on the News' front page today. "EXAM SCANDAL ROCKS CITY'S TOP SCHOOL." The graphic is the Stuyvesant seal.
Here's my question: Do we expect the kids in failing schools, kids who struggle to pass the Regents tests themselves, to become implicated in scandals where they give out test answers? Where, except at places like Stuyvesant, do we expect to find these students? Other recent cheating scandals have implicated rings of nerds from posh suburban public schools, and history is littered with private-school kids who find a way to get copies of tests and sell the answers, or who impersonate other kids and take tests for them. In other words: Where else but Stuyvesant?
The billing for that story is set on a very text-heavy front page. Look at the words covering this picture of Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford: "Regis & Kathie Lee" and "Together again? Don't do it! 'This sounds like a gimmick—and one that won't work. ' DAVID HINCKLEY—PAGE 3."
On top of the Regis and Kathie Lee picture they've layered a silhouette of columnist David Hinckley; the text is in white with black outlines, though the photo beneath is quite light. And we are only halfway through the page!
Here there's a little more air. Big, black type on white paper. "COP'S A ROBBER," reads the hed. "NYPD detective snagged in L.I. house break-in." There is a picture of the detective in question, Ray Astacio, with a caption that reads "Ray Astacio is also being probed by the FBI."
New York Post: So it's a relief to come to the far less busy Post front page. Just two stories. And total word count for display copy (not including a little square of body text): 26 words, compared to the News' 52. So exactly half.
Two thirds of the page has a demonically smiling Christie Brinkley, seemingly just short of actual size, sending tractor beams out at readers; smaller, on the lower right, an inset silhouette of her ex-husband, Peter Cook. "PARENT SLAP!" reads the knockout-white text on a black field. "Christie and ex must get ref to help raise kids." Basically the ex-couple's negotiations over their kids have become so outrageous that the court has assigned a mediator to make decisions about the two teens' upbringing, mediating between the two parents' insanities. I actually am completely bored with Christie Brinkley's marital problems, and for some time now I've thought of these two as interesting only to a small and ever waning middle generation of Hamptons worthies with neither the dignity of the midcentury old guard nor the currency of the Hamptons' big newcomers. But this is the Post, and that's a demo they have a big investment in.
Across the top: Yet more news from the bottle-throwing rage-out between Drake and Chris Brown in a downtown nightclub. This time it concerns San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker, who was planning to play for the French national basketball team (he's a Belgium-born citizen of France) but, because of damage to his eye, his doctors and possibly the Spurs may block him from playing lest he damage it further and find himself out of basketball for good and all.
"Benched," reads the main headline, which gets a little ahead of the facts (but "Benched?" would be just lame, I guess). "Drake brawl may keep Parker out of the Olympics."
Again, I'm not sure how much anyone cares about basketball at the Olympics, or whether a Texas basketball player may or may not play for the French team. But Parker is a bit of a celebrity beyond all that, as the ex-husband of Eva Longoria. And he got hurt in New York.
Observations: Are you ready for the summer? It's going to be a long one if this pre-July 4 cover match-up is any indicator. Today's made simple by design: The News looks like one of those impossible musical scores, so crowded with ink it may as well be crawling with ants. I just can't even process it at a glance.
By contrast, maybe Christie Brinkley's eyes will suck your hand out of your pocket, with a whole dollar in it, and draw it towards the newsstand guy, and before you know it, you'll have bought the Post.
Winner: New York Post.