Today's Papers

Stats Entertainment

The USA Today lead is the first-quarter drop in productivity (= widgets per hour per worker) reported yesterday by the government, which is also the top story in the Wall Street Journal’s front-page business news box. The Washington Post goes with the White House’s expected announcement today of a number of nominations to federal appeals court judgeships. The New York Times goes with a House committee’s vote to withhold a large portion of U.S. dues from the U.N. if the U.S. is not put back on the U.N. civil rights commission next year. The Los Angeles Times lead is about the emerging Bush administration energy policy, plumbed from appearances yesterday by President Bush and Vice President Cheney. The paper finds a continued insistence that conservation alone is not the answer, and few other substantial details, and files it all under the headline “BUSH OFFERS NO ANSWERS FOR CALIFORNIA.”

USAT puts its lead about the government’s detection of an annualized one-tenth of 1 percent drop in productivity under the headline, “WORKER OUTPUT PLUNGES.” The paper notes this was the first drop in six years and that it surprised economists and quotes President Bush citing it as an “additional sign of weakness” in the U.S. economy. Only below these alarms does the story mention that “analysts generally agree” that there is little in the new data to suggest a long-term productivity drop-off and that there isn’t much fear that this makes inflation likely. The WSJ says the drop is a setback to “New Economy optimists,” meaning people holding that information technology enables unprecedented productivity growth.

The WP lead says President Bush will name 11 federal judgeship nominees and that some are leading conservative lawyers, but that two, who are already sitting on the federal bench, were named “to mollify Democrats.” The story adds that Bush acknowledged Democratic opposition by not making two nominations that were widely expected but which are being opposed by Democratic senators.

The LAT lead says that the Bush energy plan will emphasize energy exploration and a nationwide expansion of the power-delivering infrastructure that includes electricity transmission wires. The story quotes but could not confirm an AP report saying that this expansion will in part rely on increasing the government’s eminent domain authority to acquire private land for conversion to public purposes. The paper also says that the new policy will not address how pollution standards should be applied to renovated aging power plants and that it will not call for higher fuel-efficiency standards for SUVs and light trucks. The NYT, in an inside energy policy tipper, says the administration has not ruled out higher fuel-efficiency standards, though.

USAT fronts a survey released yesterday indicating that 95 percent of physicians have witnessed a serious medical error. This sounds alarming, but unfortunately, the story gives no trend information about say, what doctors 10 years ago said they witnessed. Context, context, context.

The WP fronts a University of Michigan study purporting to show that children in two-parent households spend more time with their parents than did their counterparts 20 years ago. The story says the finding is “likely to raise the spirits of guilt-ridden working parents” and runs under the headline “KIDS SEEING MORE OF MOM AND DAD.” But does any of this follow? That is, isn’t the percentage of kids living in two-parent households down considerably over that 20 years? And the story saves until the last paragraph the information that the study counted as “time together” activities such as the child playing soccer with a parent in attendance.

Both the NYT and WP report that two new studies on whether or not gay men and women can have their sexual orientation changed via counseling come to opposite conclusions. But the WP headline mentions both studies while the NYT (online at least) header merely says, “SCIENTIST SAYS STUDY SHOWS GAY CHANGE IS POSSIBLE.”

The WP fronts word that a University of Virginia physics prof has used a similarity-detecting software program to identify 120 suspiciously similar papers among the 1,500 that have ever been submitted to his class. Some of the students under investigation as a result have already graduated.

The LAT uses its off-lead spot–which at most papers would be for what is viewed as the second most important story of the day–for a long feature about celebrity personal assistants. But wait–there’s less! The story mostly turns out to be about one personal assistant who now has started up a business placing other people in such gigs and includes multiple celebrity testimonials to her wonderfulness and the Web address for her company. Shouldn’t the folks on LAT’s business side be furious about giving away a 1,900-word classified ad?