It’s the type of news that stuns, surprises and gets the adrenalin flowing for editors in newsrooms everywhere. On Tuesday, May 9, a news of such magnitude happened: President Trump fired the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, abruptly . Let’s look at how the front pages covered the monumental event.
We always prepare for such news events. In some newsrooms, it is called “a 9/11” the day that is not another ordinary day in the news.
That’s exactly the type of day it was Tuesday, May 9, when President Trump fired the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, abruptly. while Comey himself was in Los Angeles, unaware of his firing, conducting a session with his Los Angeles FBI colleagues.
The news dominated online and TV news the rest of Tuesday evening and into the morning of Wednesday. That is why I continue to be surprised that so many of the printed newspapers I have seen, courtesy of newseum.org, did not take the opportunity to amplify the story on the headline. As you can see in the selection here, most of them simply said something to the effect that “Trump fires FBI Director”.
What makes this news significant, among other things, is that the fired FBI Director was the the top official leading a criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s advisers colluded with the Russian government to steer the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Let’s take a look at the pages. I think that the Florida newspaper, tbt, published by the Tampa Bay Times, in St. Petersburg,Florida, had the winning headline. Why?
Because it is about the only newspaper I saw that played on the second day angle of the story. This is how print can get ahead, by seducing readers with a headline that does not smell like yesterday’s news.
Here is how the classically designed, “national” newspapers handled the story:
By the way, here is an interesting piece on how the Times went about changing its front page to accommodate the Comey bombshell story.
Finally, a headline that advances the story beyond what we knew the moment the firing of Comey happened.
Many editors decided to pull all the stops with headlines in bold, all capital letters.
Of course, there were those headline writers who could not resist the bait: to use the phrase made famous by Donald Trump in his reality show, The Apprentice, when he was a TV celebrity.
These guys always do such an exquisite job. They’ve done it again.
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