Today's Papers

Turning Back the Clicks

The Los Angeles Times and New York Times lead with the nationwide efforts of volunteers and activists to get American voters–especially minorities–to the polls Nov. 7. The Washington Postleads instead with word that Democratic incumbent Chuck Robb has closed the gap in Virginia’s Senate race. GOP opponent George Allen now leads Robb by 2 percent as compared with Allen’s 8 percent lead in August.

With the presidency still up for grabs, volunteers and party activists are pulling out all the stops in the final days of possibility. Heralding this election as “the closest presidential fight in four decades,” the LAT reports that Republicans and Democrats are set to break previous spending on voter turnout, citing “party elders” who deem this year’s election the most grass-roots-intensive of this generation. Emphasizing the power of individuals and activist groups to harness swing states like Oregon and Florida, the LAT reports that an Alabama chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is offering $3 for every new voter registered by churches or civic groups.

Taking a similar tack, the NYT lead details the efforts of black media outlets, churches, Democrats, and civil rights organizations to increase turnout of black voters at the polls because black voters could tip the scales in Gore’s favor. The multivalent campaign ranges from advertisements to NAACP’s registration of more than 11,000 prisoners in Southern jails. When the phone rings in black neighborhoods this week, President Clinton will be on the other end, voicing a pre-recorded message pushing for Gore, according to the NYT. Clinton was scheduled to conduct a conference call today to give pro-Gore talking points to several hundred black pastors, reports the NYT.

Think twice before forwarding that randy e-mail joke: The LAT’s off-lead details how major companies use computer forensics to check up on employees. In addition to monitoring e-mail and Internet use, reports the LAT, some companies covertly copy employees’ hard drives in an effort to nail them for “workplace wrongdoing” like downloading porn and stealing company secrets. Since last year, Dow Chemical Corp., Xerox, and the New York Times have fired dozens of employees for inappropriate use of e-mail and the Internet, according to the LAT, which also reports that countersnoop technology is already on the market.

The WP fronts a photograph of a mother at the funeral of her 19-year-old son, one of 17 sailors killed in the apparent terrorist attack on the U.S.S. Cole in the port of Aden in Yemen. Below, the WP describes the FBI’s increasingly global role in crime investigations despite the fact that, in the case of the Cole investigation, the FBI is cooperating with Yemeni investigators, whose tactics include torture and a lack of due process–both barred in the U.S. and diametrically opposed to the FBI’s image of global crime fighter. Deep inside, the WP reports that as the investigation has shifted from collecting physical evidence to collecting testimony, it is more difficult for the FBI to get access to witnesses and suspects in the apparent suicide bombing. Yemen’s president opposes the questioning of Yemeni citizens by FBI agents, according to the WP, but he has also said that American investigators are privy to copies of all data collected by Yemeni investigators.

The NYT runs an article inside about how the Cole attack has become a campaign issue for New York Senate seat opponents Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rep. Rick A. Lazio. According to the NYT, 500,000 New Yorkers will have received phone calls from the state’s Republican Party stating that Mrs. Clinton took money from “a Mideast terrorism group–the same kind of terrorism that killed our sailors on the USS Cole.” What the phone call doesn’t disclose is that Mrs. Clinton returned that money (contributions to her Senate campaign from an American Muslim Alliance fund-raiser) after the group’s leader voiced support for a U.N. resolution that he claimed allowed for use of armed force by Palestinians against Israel, reports the NYT. Naturally, writes the NYT, “there has been no indication that the explosion was connected to any organization that gave money to Mrs. Clinton.”

The NYT’s editorial today emphatically endorses Al Gore for president but also plays into the milquetoast sentiments elicited by Gore and his Republican opponent, George W. Bush, that have characterized this election as choosing between the lesser of two evils. After commending Bush for “running a largely positive, inclusive campaign” and admitting to his “great personal charm,” the remainder of the editorial conducts a lucid deconstruction of Bush’s platform. Gore’s treatment isn’t all rosy as the NYT readily calls attention to his flaws, but their message of support for Gore is unequivocal: “Voting for him is not a gamble on unknown potential.”

On the WP front, an article about Internet advertising asserts that not only are click-through ads ineffective, but they’re on the decline. Though an estimated $32.3 billion will be spent this year on Internet advertising, experts cited by the WP say the average click-through rate may be as low as 0.1 percent. Today’s Papers notes that on the WP Web site, the link to the aforementioned article is just below a click-through ad for, the WP’s new tech industry news Web site.