July 18, 2014

A missile strike downs a commercial jet bound for Malaysia, killing nearly 300 people and generating international tension. Then, hours later, Israel invades Gaza, igniting a powder keg of conflict that has been steadily building for days.

With the hours until deadline ticking away, editors were faced with a difficult decision: which story should be featured more prominently?

Some newspapers gave both incidents similar play. The San Francisco Chronicle pushed down the flag and put both stories side-by-side, with kickers indicating international news. The downed jet story gets slightly more prominence with a heavier headline, photo and a three-line deck, but the four-line headline on the Gaza story gives it some parity and adds balance to the top of the page. Both stories jump.San Francisco Chronicle
The Washington Post and The New York Times also got both stories above the fold. The Post ran a rail down the left side and gave the story a four-line hed in large type, deftly making the difficult count work without splitting any subjects. Here, the missile strike once again gets dominant play with a large photo and five subheds.

New York Times-Some papers decided to give one story more play than the other, like The Arizona Republic. A large headline, subhed and photo leads the paper, and news of the Gaza invasion is relegated to the bottom.

Arizona RepublicThe Wall Street Journal took a similar tack, running a picture of the wreckage prominently and pushing the Gaza Invasion farther down the page.

Wall Street Journal

Some smaller papers elected to banish the big international news entirely, preferring to feature local news instead. Here, The Daily Sentinel (Scottsboro, Alabama) features wild art prominently on the front page, along with community news piece about area schools.

Jackson County Daily Sentinel
Likewise the News-Times (Danbury, Connecticut), which ran an art hed of the first governor’s broadcast debate over a dominant photo.The New Times Connecticut
Same with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, which featured its Frontier Days coverage prominently.


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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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