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Health care versus Mauer: What gets the bigger front-page treatment?

It’s always fun to see how front-page designers prioritize when there’s more than one big story; in this case, history-making social policy versus a history-making baseball contract.

The Star Tribune gave over most of its front to health care reform, with a banner headline running across the page, a rarity these days. Over at the Pioneer Press, Joe Mauer got the art, and two-thirds of the page. Have you heard he’s from St. Paul?

Here’s how things looked to Strib readers:

And meanwhile, in St. Paul:

Neither paper ignored the other story, of course. The Strib placed Mauer’s mug, and the red-letter news, at the top of the page, to somewhat awkwardly flag a small newsbox at the bottom; the Pioneer Press put health care top left (though with a Washington Post story, since the paper doesn’t staff D.C.). Overall, I though the Strib captured the day.

By the way, fun fact: In addition to expanding access and banning discrimination on pre-existing conditions, health care reform is financed in part by a 0.9 percent Medicare-tax surcharge on individuals making over $200,000. That means Joe will pay an additional $205,200 annually on his $23 million-a-year deal.

Another truth: Joe could buy either paper, and probably both, with his $184 million extension. But I suspect his financial advisors have other ideas.

Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 03/22/2010 - 08:11 am.

    The Pioneer Press editorialized against health care reform in their Sunday edition. The unsigned editorial certainly had a “Craig Westover tone” to it. As is so often the case with Westover’s positions, this editorial was dead wrong, too.

  2. Submitted by Stephan Flister on 03/22/2010 - 08:40 am.

    A Pioneer Press editorial is wrong? Shame on them for misleading their millions of readers.

  3. Submitted by James Hamilton on 03/22/2010 - 09:03 am.

    Like it or not, the bill was only one of the five most important pieces of legislation in the last century, along with the 19th Amendment, Social Security, Medicare, and the Voting Rights Act. Mauer, on the other hand, is baseball.

  4. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/22/2010 - 09:20 am.

    What I like about sports is that they are so trivial. For the life of me, I do not understand why I should care what some ballplayer makes. Such things almost define irrelevance to my life.

  5. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/22/2010 - 09:38 am.

    What’s newsworthy is one of the mystical questions that defy many forms of logic. I don’t know why sports gets more coverage than the war in Iraq, for example, but it does. “Newsworthiness” has much less to do with what’s important than it does with what sells newspapers or whatever form of media we are talking about. It also has a lot to do with the personal perspectives of those who make decisions about what goes into the paper, their sense of what’s important, what’s interesting, what reflects their own world view.

  6. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/22/2010 - 09:40 am.

    Given the perilous state of newspapers which are things I love, I tend not to question the judgment of those who know a lot more than I do on the subject, with respect to what sells them, what’s in their economic interest. The Mauer story got a lot of play this morning, but I have found it no problem at all to get my fill of health care coverage. It’s there for those who are interested enough to look for it.

  7. Submitted by Ken Paulman on 03/22/2010 - 10:04 am.

    Probably a given that the Pioneer had fewer people working on the desk last night, do they also have a different press deadline? Or a less versatile pagination system? If so, that could go a long way toward explaining the different pages. Blowing up the centerpiece art and starting over can be a tall order on a Sunday night, especially if you have to do it twice.

    None of this matters to the reader, of course, but anyone who’s ever had to make this type of call knows that news judgment is just one factor out of many that affects how the front page looks in the morning.

  8. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/22/2010 - 10:41 am.

    History making baseball deal? That’s an oxymoron. Almost nothing that happens in sports ever rises to the level of “history”, it’s trivia.

  9. Submitted by Ross Williams on 03/22/2010 - 11:11 am.

    The Duluth News_Tribnune had a banner headline and picture of the UMD women’s hockey team’s triple over-time victory for the NCAA championship.

    Mauer and health care with both below the fold.

  10. Submitted by Richard Parker on 03/22/2010 - 03:53 pm.

    I subscribe to both papers, used to lay out pages at the Star Tribune, and agree that the Strib’s treatment was proper. I was disappointed by the PiPress’s front page, though I realize that the staff is smaller and the deadlines may be earlier (though not necessarily). On a normal news day, without either of these big stories, I’d have expected to see the dog-poop story in a major centerpiece dominated by Ben Garvin’s fine feces-in-foreground photo (it’s on 8A today). (Full disclosure: Garvin is married to my niece.)

    While working at the Strib I once asked an upper-echelon online editor why a story on a top Gopher prospect not signing with the Vikings was running at the top of the home page above a major breaking Iraq story, and was told that anything at all about the Vikings gets more hits than any other news topic. So today I commend the judgment of the print editors, anyway.

  11. Submitted by Hal Sanders on 03/22/2010 - 06:41 pm.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t have a problem with how either paper handled the stories for their particular audience. A reader of either paper would not miss either of the stories. We need to remember, too, Mauer is St. Paul’s “favorite son” of recent years. I laid out many hundreds of Page Ones at the Strib before I retired, and the big news days such this always provided lots of discussion (sometimes heated.) But they were also the most satisfying.

  12. Submitted by Craig Westover on 03/23/2010 - 08:39 am.

    Note to Robert Moffitt: I have been working on political campaigns since early this year and have not written for the Pioneer Press in that time. I have not worked on unsigned editorials for over two years after I became a paid fellow at the Minnesota Free Market Institute (a position I left to work in partisan politics). His slur that I am generally wrong is a matter of opinion. His implication that I wrote the editorial is factually wrong.

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