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Rocky, Post page ones judge financial crisis differently

The financial disaster currently looming on the horizon is front-page news throughout the country, as can be seen on the portion of the Newseum website that displays newspaper covers from coast to coast on a daily basis. But in Denver, the two dailies see the story in different ways. The Denver Post made its roundup, "Details Bedevil Bailout," the day's top item. Over at the Rocky Mountain News, "Bailout Far From Done Deal" rated only a lukewarm above-the-banner tease -- "Wall St. Waits, Wobbles" -- directing readers to the business section.

Which paper came closer to hitting the mark? In my view, the Post.

The Post's headline is larger than strictly necessary. The type is nearly the size used to announce wars -- and we're clearly in the midst of this fiscal muddle, not at the very cusp or even the beginning of the end. Yet the headline accurately frames the report, which is more than important enough to every Post reader to deserve the placement it received.

In contrast, the Rocky decided to lead with a piece noting that Highlands Ranch has been judged the most affluent community in the state. What? Next they'll be telling us that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west! And to make matters worse, the cover photo, of a four-year-old listening to an iPod while his beaming mother looks on, could hardly be more boring. The image looks like a second-rate family snapshot, not the sort of thing that deserves to appear on the cover of a major metropolitan daily.

The Rocky's inclination not to place Wall Street woes front and center for days on end is understandable and defensible. But if editors are going to put these offerings in a secondary position, the lead effort's got to be compelling to someone other than prideful residents of Highlands Ranch. -- Michael Roberts

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