Who knew Tom Cruise would dance with a person from Queens?!

Today's tabloids, Sept. 27, 2012. ()
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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?

CRUISING: What are the chances that you will hear the name Cynthia Jorge again after today? I'd say pretty minimal.

A report in the celebrity glossy InTouch cited sources saying they witnessed the young Boston University class of 2008 graduate Jorge "dirty dancing" with Tom Cruise at a Chinatown nightclub last week before he took her out of the club and ordered a private car to take her home to her mom's house in homely Fresh Meadows, Queens, where she lives.

The source isn't named, of course. Nor is the head bouncer interviewed by the Daily News when they went to check up on whether Cruise is preparing marriage no. 4. Here's his version of events: "I was here all night and I didn’t see him. I read about it and I was surprised. If he was here, I would have seen him. I don’t believe it. It didn’t happen here."

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I'm not sure whether this minor detail, which is there in the online version of the story, made it in after press time or was cut from the print edition, since it kind of mitigates the "importance" of the news; either way, it's clear what degree of importance the online side at the News attaches to the tale by the position of the story on the homepage of the site. If they thought it were true, it would be the top of the page. Instead it's only a small text-link. So, that's why I'm not going to bother with this story any longer.

There's a picture of the very pretty Jorge on the front page, her bust silhouetted a little unfortunately in Photoshop so that it looks kind of square at the end. There are little postage-stamp sized pictures of Cruise (who does not look like himself at all, for some reason) and his ex-wife Katie Holmes.

The headline reads "FROM KATIE TO QUEENS?!" which is more important for its tone-deafness than anything else. Editors at the News would do well to remember the borough that butters its bread most lavishly and could have played it like a fairy-tale instead of an incredulous scandal story about Cruise scraping the barrel for "normals" to marry. That is, if they had been willing to wait to feel confident in the InTouch story before putting it all over their front page (which they did not).

COL ALLAN'S BEVY OF COVER STARS: After Hurricane Sandy, the Post randomly put a picture of an underwear model on its front page to sell a story about a coming snowstorm. A few days after Sandy Hook, the Post put a picture of a little-known Persian underwear model on the cover to tease a story about the Mayan apocalypse. Today, Post editor Col Allan applies the sexy-dame treatment to the fiscal cliff, showing a woman in a bikini leaping off a cliff into choppy water below.

It's a stock photo, purchased from Corbis. The text reads "THIS FALL IS REALLY GOING TO HURT" with more text that reads "Off the fiscal cliff," and yet more text that reads "THE BRUTAL TRUTH ABOUT YOUR NEW TAXES."

With all that text, the lettering is sort-of medium-sized and utterly without impact. And here's another thing for the Post to consider: The dramatic impact of the bikini-clad woman leaping off the cliff means showing her from a pretty great distance, which means there secretly isn't much sex appeal here. 

OBSERVATIONS: Well, we're in the middle of Christmocalypse, and this year is the worst in several years. In years when Christmas falls on a Tuesday or Wednesday, even New York City grinds to a halt for an unbearable 11 and a half days, by my calculation.

Lots of people started checking out on Dec. 21, three full days before Christmas itself. Christmas Eve, Christmas and Boxing Day are always total washes. And now with the rump end of a work week measuring only two days before yet another weekend, followed immediately by New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, we're only a little more than halfway through New York's unofficial weeklong brownout.

Notice that everything is spotty? That things are randomly not open? Are all your newspapers arriving? Were you affected by the Netflix outage on Christmas Eve?

No surprise, then, that some newspapers don't seem to be exerting as much energy as usual in the prosecution of journalism.

Each paper sucks in its own special way today.

The News for stealing an item from InTouch (and only later, too late for the presses, realizing it's probably a pile of nothing, or worse, cynically prying our holiday-weary eyes open to look at fake news) and for dissing Queens. (I'm not sensitive but they're either unaware of what a good chunk of their constituency is or they're consciously putting on airs.)

The Post for once again indulging Col Allan's taste for putting random underdressed women on its front page to dress up days-late, boring news that's been done better pretty much everywhere else in the weeks leading up to today. Make no mistake about it: You're being served crap today on the assumption that you can't eat another thing. Send it back.

WINNER: Daily News.