12:09 pm Aug. 30, 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?
The eyes of Lindsay Lohan
"PHOTO EXCLUSIVE" reads the little red sticker at the very bottom left-hand corner of today's Daily News. But when paparazzi take 100 shots of a celebrity walking from the front door of a restaurant to a car and sell you the exclusive rights to one of them, it's not exactly that much of a prize. That's what happened yesterday with a photo taken for celebrity photo and news site X17online.
The site is publishing its own exclusive—a slightly more flattering picture of Lindsay Lohan leaving Wolfgang Puck, in which her eyes are wide open. Of course, people blink, and professional cameras are fast. It seems more than a little dishonest to present Lohan as drunk in this picture, which is something the News just about does with the headline accompanying the picture: "LILO'S BLITZED & BACK IN TOWN." By contrast to the photo in the News, look at the one on the left here that X17online is using on its own site.
But to be fair, the photo exclusive is not really the thing they're selling here. The News' new gossip column, Confidenti@l is reporting that Lohan is moving back to New York City, specifically to Tribeca, leaving her Los Angeles troubles (including a recent accusation of theft and a reported outstanding balance at the Chateau Maromont of more than $45,000) behind, and, we are led to believe, stirring up trouble already here. The fact that her evening last night involved a trip to the infamous Dorrian's on the Upper East Side should give you an idea of the tone.
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But most of the front page is taken up with the story of estranged 74-year-old Staten Island husband Armando Tritto, who appeared early yesterday morning at the bowling alley where his wife was opening up the snack bar for the day, and proceeded to fire three shots at her, all of them missing, before panicking, dropping the gun and fleeing the bowling alley in a white car. Cops found and charged him. There's little real information about the trouble in the marriage, and I doubt much more will come out, since nobody died. "SPARED," reads the main headline. There's a picture of the couple, with a bowling pin photoshopped into the lower right-hand corner. "Strikes out in bid to kill wife at bowling alley."
The New York Post gives its whole front page to the Vito Lopez saga, which is rapidly expanding into something with potential for lots of collateral damage in the state Democratic party. Sheldon Silver has had to apologize for hushing up settlements paid out by the Assembly to plaintiffs, and says he welcomes a state ethics investigation (the editorial page, which is written in Australian, chimes in: "Sure he does—just like a cobra welcomes a mongoose"). One of the plaintiffs the Post identifies as a former chief of staff for Lopez. They found her near her Brooklyn apartment, took photos of her and included her name in their report, a large picture of her on the front page. "VITO'S VICTIM" reads the headline on the front page (online, the rather tasteless and insensitive "HUSH MONEY HONEY" is used). The break, which isn't quite that helpful but does sort of humanize the scandal, is really just a lede-all that catches all of yesterday's developments in the case.
I once told an editor working for me that we always had to try to work someone else into stories about Vito Lopez, because going big with a photo of the Eeyorish politician I thought would put people to sleep. The Post certainly managed it, and though to me the taste in naming this plaintiff is questionable, I don't think it will hurt sales.
Still, a good domestic drama (the bowling alley theme) certainly moves papers—and readers have already bought the paper by the time they are being disappointed by the level of drama in the story inside.
And Lindsay Lohan coming to New York is a pretty big break—but it's really minimized by the emphasis on the lame picture. I'm not sure anyone will look at this front page and realize the News has reported anything at all.
Winner: New York Post.