What’s on your newspaper’s front page today? Chances are it is not Donald Trump
You might be surprised to learn that only a handful of US daily newspapers led with Trump’s latest outrage, many sticking with local news, or the Supreme Court’s local gun law decision
The media is up in arms over Donald Trump’s latest over-the-top tirade:
Donald J. Trump called on Monday for the United States to bar all Muslims from entering the country until the nation’s leaders can “figure out what is going on” after the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., an extraordinary escalation of rhetoric aimed at voters’ fears about members of the Islamic faith. – NYT
Criminy, that must be the lead story of every newspaper across the country, right? Well, no.
In fact, of the over 500 front pages available online this morning, Donald Trump’s demand for barring Muslims from entering the country, including Muslim-Americans who are overseas, rarely is the lead story. And a large percentage of newspapers do not even feature the story on its front page at all.
The reasons for these editorial decisions are many, I am sure. Many newspaper dedicate their full front page to local news, others have their own judgements as to what yesterday’s big story really was. The Supreme Court’s decision not to review the Highland Park, Illinois gun restrictions led a number of papers including several dailies in Colorado such as The Denver Post.
That story also dominated the front page of The Daily News in New York (as you can see above) which recently ran a somewhat controversial front page heading, “God Isn’t Fixing This,” in response to the knee-jerk reaction of some politicians to only offer their prayers in response to mass shootings.
The NY Post ran with something altogether different.
In Iowa, where one would think the Presidential election would be upper most in people’s minds as the first test will be the Iowa caucuses, the Trump story led none of the major papers in the state. None. My guess is that many editors thought Trump’s remarks were a political ploy, which they were, and they did not want to be seen as giving The Donald free advertising – at least not on their front page.
The reason I investigated how newspapers were handling the story was that within the journalism and political reporting communities, especially on Twitter, the story was assumed to be on everyone’s lips. The current meme is that Trump supporters were tuning out the media and so are not being influenced by a media united in its revulsion of Trump’s proposal.
Mashable’s Emily Cahn, for instance, today writes that the reason Trump supporters remain behind their man despite “receiving widespread coverage, and often condemnation, in the mainstream media” is because Trump supporters have been “primed for years by GOP politicians and pundits to distrust the media.”
But that assumes that the media is, in fact, giving Trump’s Muslim position widespread coverage and condemnation. Maybe on cable news, maybe in the largest daily newspaper websites, maybe among journalists themselves and political observers. But not, it appears, in local newspapers – even most major metro papers.**
The Trump story has much competition, of course:
In California, the San Bernardino shooting still leads; in Illinois the Department of Justice’s decision to investigate the Chicago police force dominates; in many parts of the country the Supreme Court’s decision to not review local gun rules leads. But in most papers it is still local news, as is likely the norm.
So, if reporters think voters are not paying attention to what the media is writing about Donald Trump maybe they are overestimating the amount of ink Trump is really getting – at least on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers.
**Note: At the risk of repeating myself, it is important to note again that many newspapers have gone in recent years to totally local news front pages, sticking national and international news inside, or in a separate section. But the front page remains what readers see first and rightly believe is the most important story to be read before running off to work.
This post is not a criticism of these editor’s news judgement, by the way, but instead an attempt to review what really is leading the news in most print newspapers.