11:15 am Aug. 13, 20121
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?
Times Square shootout
Yesterday, both papers fronted the story of Darrius Kennedy, the knife-wielding man gunned down by police near Times Square Saturday afternoon after he allegedly brandished an 11-inch Ikea knife and did not succumb to several blasts of pepper spray. The story was played so big on the front of the Post that the paper relegated Saturday's announcement that Paul Ryan was picked by Mitt Romney as running mate to a thin strip along the bottom of the page (the News gave it a skybox and a picture with the words "Ryan's Hope").
There are a few reasons that the encounter between police and Kennedy is front-page material. In fact, as commissioner Ray Kelly tells the papers, today, the police respond to tens of thousands of "E.D.P." reports—the letters stand for "emotionally disturbed persons"—but deadly force was used on eight people total by the NYPD last year. In other words, it was a rarity.
But more significant probably was the location of the showdown: The busy intersection just south of Times Square at Seventh Avenue. (Inside, the Post even has a separate article about tourists gawking and taking pictures of the blood on the sidewalk from Kennedy's gunshot wounds.)
Still, a second day of full front-page coverage seems like a lot: All that has happened, so far, is that some members of Kennedy's family are saying they doubt the use of deadly force was necessary, and that it certainly should not have taken 12 shots to subdue him, while Kelly is defending police.
"HE GOT HIS WISH" reads the main hed; that's another element of the story. In the standoff with police, Kennedy kept yelling at cops to shoot him. (Nobody is saying that police actually shot him in order to comply with his request so this is all just a bit of tabloid poetry of course.) The real news is in the dek, such news as it is: "Cops right to kill Times Sq. thug: Kelly." The caption reveals a small ancillary piece of information: That Kennedy had a similar run-in with police back in 2008.
The picture is a grainy cell-phone picture that, I think, comes from one of Kennedy's aunts who was interviewed by both tabloids yesterday.
Meanwhile the Olympics wrapped up. The closing ceremonies were just about the enormous stadium fest you'd expect. And the News decided to go global, giving its entire front page to a giant close-up picture of LeBron James, pumping both fists before an enormous fluttering American flag after the U.S. beat Spain for the gold medal in basketball. It is perhaps among the less surprising wins of the entire tournament, but it was also among the last and put a cap on the all-important medal count, which the U.S. won by a pretty large margin with 104 medals, 46 of them gold.
Observations: Was it a slow news day? In a way, sure: All the weekend news is there, hanging around and waiting to be picked up by weekday readers of the papers who don't bother on the weekends. At the newsstand, this morning will likely be the first time lots of readers encounter the Kennedy story. Paul Ryan has been everywhere all weekend. The Olympics have a sort of weird age given the time-lapse combined with the up-to-the-minute reporting from news organizations "spoiling" NBC's time-delay. But really, I'm not sure what the papers could have done this morning. I can't keep track really anymore of whether either paper still cares about preferring local news for the front, as both have claimed at different times to do. "HE GOT HIS WISH" really does seem to just repeat Sunday's front page, but how much does it matter? The picture of LeBron James is pretty compelling, and he's obviously the famous face this morning.
I think, at the very least, the News had news from yesterday, rather than Saturday. So I'm going with them.
Winner: Daily News.