Every Saturday morning, just for fun and without spending a dime on gas, I take a trip to roughly 100 American cities and towns.
I do this through a terrific website operated by the Newseum, a facility in Washington, DC, dedicated to preserving and promoting the nation's news media, particularly its newspapers. At www.newseum.org there is a section called Today's Front Pages which, without comment or embellishment, lets visitors read newspaper "fronts" from around the nation.
During my tour on May 22 I saw on the front page of The Durango Herald in Colorado that residents are complaining about the city's 50-foot pile of snow that was collected during winter and is now brown and smelly and won't seem to melt, global warming and the coming of summer notwithstanding.
The Courier News in New Jersey reported the four millionth fan to attend a Somerset Patriots minor-league baseball game received a year's supply of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. The Stamford Advocate in Connecticut ran a photo of a 2000 Jeep Cherokee, bought by a local man for $26,000 because it was once owned by Barack Obama.
In Georgia, The Gainesville Times led with news that Scott Haley, 28, was sentenced to two years in prison for posting YouTube videos in which he claimed, falsely, to have killed 16 people in what the paper notes, "could be the first case of its kind in Georgia." There was legal news in North Dakota as well where The Bismarck Tribune told about a guy who is protesting because state officials won't allow his personalized license plate to read ISNOGOD.
In an eye-catching photo on page one of the Herald News in Fall River, Mass., "chain saw artist" Jesse Green is shown making a wooden sculpture of chef Emeril Lagasse, of all people.
According to The Press Journal in Indian River, Fla., an 86-year-old page of math homework was found at the former Fellsmere School building. "So all these years later," the story said, "Hallie Alcutt could prove that she really did lose her homework." Unfortunately, Ms. Alcutt died eight years ago at age 91.
In Albany, N.Y., The Times Union reported that a middle school sparked controversy by banning hugging on campus. Meanwhile in Georgia, a front-page story in the Macon Telegraph said several parents were turned away at high school graduation ceremonies for wearing short pants.
It was front-page news in Riverside, California's Press-Enterprise that Jordan Romero, 13, became the youngest person to climb Mount Everest. Other mountains made news, as The Honolulu Star Bulletin ran a photo of the Kilauea Volcano erupting for the 10,000th straight day.
As different as the nation's front pages tend to be, it's clear that all editors love photos of animals. On this single Saturday, moose were fronted on The Anchorage Daily News and bison on The New York Times. There was a goat on The Harrison Daily Times in Arkansas, a horse on The Washington Post, and a giant octopus on The Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa. The Erie Times-News in Pennsylvania featured a colony of bees, The State in Columbia, S.C. focused on kangaroos, and The Wisconsin State Journal pictured a monkey.
Under the headline "Pooch in the Pokey," The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., disclosed that a pit bull named Romeo may have been framed for attacks on neighborhood pets. In Iowa, the lead item in the Sioux City Journal was that a cat named Amazing Grace survived surgery to remove a three-inch nail from her head.
In other news of good fortune, The Topeka Capital-Journal in Kansas reported that Donna Nish found 21 four-leaf clovers and three five-leaf clovers growing in her front yard.
The Times Record in Fort Smith, Ark., revealed that a program requiring drunk drivers to tour prisons is running into trouble because many of them are showing up for the tours drunk.
Then there was the story on the front page of the Courier-Times in New Castle, Ind., announcing plans for this year's Memorial Day celebration. The highlight will be a traveling museum about funerals. Reporter Donna Cronk notes that alongside the caskets "there will be complimentary hot dogs, chips, beverages, and tropical shaved ice."
It's apparent that despite the shrinking globe, this remains a remarkably diverse nation. And despite technological changes in the news business, the nation's front pages still capture it best.
Peter Funt may be reached at www.CandidCamera.com.
©2010 Peter Funt. This column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Cari Dawson Bartley at 800 696 7561 or e-mail [email protected].
Peter Funt is a writer and public speaker. He's also the long-time host of "Candid Camera." A collection of his DVDs is available at www.candidcamera.com.