11:28 am Aug. 5, 20111
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 New York Post: The Post cover today is nice and simple. "RED INK," the headline reads, in massive white-outlined red letters. "Stocks crash 512 pts." There's a downward-jagging red arrow racing away from the bottom of the K in "ink," annotated as it plummets: "Dow opens at 11,896.44;" "Americans lose $2 trillion;" "Dow closes down 4.31%."
The text is set against the requisite backdrop of a floor trader grasping his face in despair, or shielding his eyes from the carnage, or both. The caption says, "I can't bear to look! A New York Stock Exchange trader reacts to the Big Board yesterday as if he were watching a horror movie."
I don't have anything much to say about the substance. This news is bad! So bad, in fact, that the Post does not need to point out the political context: all available economic indicators stink right now, people are in a panicky mood, the Tea Party-dictated debt-ceiling deal hasn't made investors or economists feel any better and neither did anything Barack Obama said in the aftermath of the deal, and no one has any answers.
If I am really, really looking hard for a positive signal in the Post's coverage, it is that Fox Business Network senior correspondent Charles Gasparino, in a package-anchoring column entitled "Bamanomics exposed! No one in their right mind is buying into it after fiasco," doesn't quite have the courage of his convictions, beginning his third graf with a big fat hedge: "OK, a stronger-than-expected jobs report could send the Dow flying in the other direction today. But ... "
I guess we amateurs should feel good that the TV experts don't know much more about what's actually happening here than we do.
Daily News:The News is marginally less simple. That is, approximately half the front page (the lower half, not counting a New York Lottery ad at the very bottom) is taken up by a story about the same market dip that the Post deals with. Although the News presents the news in a more servicey way: The hed is "KISS IT GOODBYE," and the dek is "401(k)s clobbered as Dow plunges 512 points." Same white-bordered big red letters, same tragically zig-zaggy arrow, no agonized trader. Instead, the background is black.
The top half of the News cover is about ... baseball! "BATTLE FOR FIRST PLACE; YANKS SWEEP, SOX LOSE HEADING INTO FENWAY; SEE SPORTS." The Sox have murdered the Yankees so far this year. They're the two best teams in the American league, if not baseball. (Philadelphia, in the National League, would be the only other team in a three-way baseball superleague, if there were such a thing.)
My brother Dave, a Yankee fan, keeps saying it's fine if the Sox keep winning these series during the regular season, because both teams will be in the playoffs and then no one will care what happened in June and July and August. I don't think he really means it, though. And if the Yankees somehow manage a Boston Massacre, my prediction is he'll pretend he never even said it.
Observations: The Post's cover is prettier, more dramatic and more skillfully put together. But I am going to rule against them today for the aggressively stupid reason that I like baseball, and so do lots of other tabloid readers.
Winner: Daily News.