Monday, October 09, 2006

Those nuclear hed awards

Time for a look at how America's Newspapers performed with Sunday night's news that North Korea claimed to have joined the Atomic Candle Club.

Grand Champion:
Is N. Korea nuclear?
The Record (Stockton, Calif.)
Umm... tell you what. If you're going to ask me, how about you give me the 50 cents and I give you some dead pine trees with advertising on 'em?

First runner-up in the Please Read The Wires After 7 category:
No nuke test, China, Japan tell N. Korea
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
The judges singled out for particular commendation the lede, which reminds us that "Pyongyang appeared to back down from its threat."

Special recognition in the Crosstown Echo Effect Echo Effect Category:
North Korea tests nuke
Step forward, the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. On tiebreakers, the Post wins for its deck: "Defiance or defense?" (Answer: Yes!)

And in the World? What world? category, the champion is Fort Myers, Fla., leading with:
Golf course labor scarce
This isn't the only paper that couldn't be bothered to find frontpage space for the event. Or the only one that managed to tease to football and baseball. Belleville (Ill.) and the Detroit News both led with baseball (not the same team, of course). And Greensboro gets a special nod for not only leading with golf, but for providing relentlessly clueless hyphenation in its top Actual News hed:

Duke-case prosecutor undeterred by critics

Enough of sermon, pretty much. Though it's worth asking whether the claim at hand should be attributed -- hey, take a bow, the Missourian! -- or stated as a fact, as in the Denver examples above and a few score others. That one doesn't have an exact answer, which makes it more rather than less interesting to discuss.

Certainly, an official stamp from the White House isn't the highest and best way of verifying international events. Nor are "rogue" states' claims presumptively false, nor claims about nuclear testing invariably true. In this case, we're stuck with weighing North Korea's interest in wanting to be known as a nuclear power against access (pretty late on a Sunday) to people with the technical means to add credibility to the event and a vested interest in having an honest answer on the frontpage. I'd go with the attribution.


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