9:52 am Sep. 4, 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?
Online, the Daily News is billing as exclusive a story that's also on the front page of the New York Post: that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver claims he asked Vito Lopez, the Brooklyn Democratic party chairman and assemblyman who with Silver's cooperation settled two sexual harassment lawsuits earlier this year, to resign from his Assembly seat.
There's video of Silver giving an interview to a group of reporters in which he says precisely the same words that appear in the News story.
In the News the quote from Silver, when asked what Lopez's reaction was to his request, is, "His response was almost inaudible.” In the video he says, "His response was inaudible."
The paper ditched the "exclusive" tag for the print edition, and led today's front page with the story.
"SHELL SHOCK" reads the headline, which would almost be a pun except Sheldon Silver's nickname should work out to "SHEL," so "SHEL SHOCK" would have been better. Either way, usually a pun is good when both meanings address the substance of the story. They can say that Sheldon Silver asking Lopez to resign his seat is shocking (though I'd argue that it isn't), but there's not really a post-traumatic stress angle here.
Then there's the fact that on the newsstand it doesn't look exclusive at all, given that the same story is on the Post, which gives it less space, and an even worse headline. "VETO VITO." I don't even know what to call this. Potentially redeeming is the subhead: "Silver tells 'Gropez' to quit Assembly."
I love "Gropez," which I think started as a Twitter hashtag among reporters covering the case, and which sounds like a character from a scary educational film for children about molestation.
[Gropez image via this]
The Tuesday after Labor Day weekend is to lots of people the real first day of the year, and the unofficial beginning of autumn, so it's time for the papers to establish their credentials for covering football. And so half of the News front page and what looks like almost three quarters of the Post front page are taken up with football packages. Expect this for a few days on the News, which likes to dole these things out over some days; today, it's just splashy-looking schedules for the Jets and Giants. Graphically it's played down the middle, with players for both teams looking jacked up in silhouette; a TOMORROW headline tells us that their actual season previews are not actually in the paper today.
The Post goes big on day one with a 20-page pullout that includes previews, schedules, analysis and picks. And unlike the News' cover, the graphic is editorial. Jets coach Rex Ryan is pictured in a little green car with Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow in clown makeup and holding green Jets-logo balloons. To the left, the Giants are in swanky suits riding some kind of flashy new convertible in Giants blue, looking down on the Jets and holding their Super Bowl trophy aloft.
The Post loves a winner.
If the papers want to sell today on football, I'm confused about the News' strategy. Why wouldn't I buy the Post today, get the schedules and their analysis, and the News tomorrow, to round it out? The Post is theoretically limiting its appeal by ragging on one of the home teams, although the sad-clown bit seems to be a pretty accurate reflection of the way many Jets fans are feeling about Rex Ryan and company right about now.
If we call the football a draw then the News has the edge, since less of their page depends on it. But having lost the exclusive on Sheldon Silver overnight the News isn't gaining much of an advantage leading with it today . "VETO VITO" and "SHELL SHOCK" are both bad, but for my money, "Gropez" saves the day for the Post. It's close today.
Winner: New York Post.