Eyeing A1

A look at newspaper front pages from around the country

Posts Tagged ‘Message

Looking at race on the front page

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After last week’s discussion in class, I wanted to find a newspaper front page that directly dealt with race.

I found the sub-headline aptly titled for the piece “Conflicting portrait.”

To give more meaning to that headline, The Star Ledger incorporates two photos of the black man. The first is a small headshot, but he looks angry and the photo itself actually looks darker. When looking at the newspaper it’s actually the first photo you see because many people tend to read top to bottom and left to right.

It’s interesting to note on the paper’s website, only the mug shot appears, which the reporter writes: “If a picture says a thousand words, the mug shot police released said “guilty” a thousand times.”

The man pictured in the newspaper is Lee Evans. He was arrested in March on five counts of murder in the disappearance of five teenagers 32 years ago. The article paints a portrait of Evans where is seen as a good person by his friends and family, but neighborhood folks have a much different view of him.

The lede of the story is nearly as important as the photos and the headline.

Here are the first two paragraphs:

Two pictures, one man. One continuing mystery.

Lee Evans was one of two cousins charged in March with five counts of murder in the disappearance of five city teenagers 32 years ago. Police said he was a menacing 6-foot-4, 225-pound street thug known as “Big Man” who kept a dark secret for three decades through intimidation of accomplices and witnesses. If a picture says a thousand words, the mug shot police released said “guilty” a thousand times.

By this point, he already sounds guilty. In fact, the reporter is using the image to make an argument.  Not facts or stories, but an image of the man to make a quick case. By writing these things at the very beginning of an article, the reporter is telling the viewer how to see the photo. There is not much left to intepretation.

Our brains already begin to move in one direction once we learn the headshot is actually a mugshot. That, of course, has a negative connotation associated with it.

This is a tough story because you’re dealing with a case of where is being charged with murder. Obviously, something happened where five teens are missing, but instead of writing about the boys who went missing 32 years ago, this newspaper paints a portrait of a man where they are initially negative.

Only toward the bottom of the article does it state there is no physical evidence against him and that there is only person witness.

The article ends with this:

This is not to say Evans is innocent. In Hampton’s story, only eight people would know for certain what happened on Aug. 20, 1978, and six of them are dead. That leaves Hampton and Evans.

If the police have more on him, they’re not saying. And that leaves two pictures, one man, one continuing mystery.

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Written by Susan Lulgjuraj

April 14, 2010 at 10:37 pm

They’re always smiling

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Scouring some front pages on Newseum.org, I initially opened the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (yep, in Alaska) because there was a big picture on the front page. I just wanted to see what was so important to the paper that they felt deserved so much attention.

The photo is centered on the page and every story is around the photo, which means the reader has to look at the photo. It dominates the entire page.

The photo didn’t interest  me much, but I am sure the people of Fairbanks, Alaska could relate to a cross-country skier.

Bryan Richardson, 20, killed in Fairbanks, Alaska. Photo is from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

I was actually struck by the article running across the top of the page. It’s about a 20-year-old boy who was shot and killed.

I’ve noticed that anytime newspapers report on someone’s death, the picture is always have them happy. I know the picture that is featured in the article and on the newspaper’s website wasn’t taken by a staff photographer. It’s obviously one given to the paper by the family.

But this often holds true for celebrities or even those that newspapers may have many pictures of.

Pictures show those who have died as usually smiling and happy in life.

Even was the case when actor Corey Haim recently passed away even though he has a history of drug abuse. I don’t have any front pages showing his mug with his infectious smile, but there are some examples on the Internet.

People magazine has a nice photo of him, even though he looks rather tired.

Why are they always smiling? What message is coming across when editors choose to show a smiling face of someone who has died rather than one that accurately portrayed who they were in life.

I’m not saying Richardson wasn’t a happy person. But, I’m sure there was more to him than a guy laying on a couch posing for a camera shot.

Written by Susan Lulgjuraj

March 19, 2010 at 11:08 am