How the Daily News Cover Changed Overnight — Then Changed Again

Events in Ferguson — and angry readers — forced changes in real time.


It may be that this morning’s news is the first you’re hearing of the events in Ferguson, Mo. — how a young unarmed black man was shot by police, how residents protested, and how a militarized police force evidently overreacted — and if it is, well, prepare to get angry.

What’s interesting, from a Philly perspective, is how those events forced changes to the cover of today’s Philadelphia Daily News. Twice. And how that happened says a lot about how media works in 2014.

We don’t know what the cover was originally going to be. We do know, however, that late in the process, editors decided to rip it up and feature Ferguson instead.

And this was the result:

Photo Aug 14, 12 26 25 AM

When that image got Tweeted out by the Daily News around midnight, reader reaction was swift and angry. The consensus? That it made the largely African-American population of Ferguson appear to be responsible for violence that, by many accounts, was initiated and escalated by police there.

A screen grab of some responses:

Photo Aug 14, 12 27 52 AM

At one point, a reader and DN assistant city editor Albert Stumm exchanged words:

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 1.06.02 AM

The result? Within minutes, the Daily News editors ripped up the cover and started over again.

Take Two:

Photo Aug 14, 12 27 16 AM

And maybe a little self-congratulation:

The result? Some folks today will see the first cover, some folks the second:

But it’s true: It’s rare that newspapers rip up planned front pages in response to real-time reader feedback. Is that a force that will always be used for good? Who knows? But it shows how technology gives ordinary citizens the power to shape the news report in so-called legacy media operations these days. And that power can still be startling to watch as it gets used in the heat of the moment.

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  • nissinphilli

    Law & order, is a very big responsibility; therefore, it must not be taken so very callously, by the folks who are entrusted to up-hold the law! Know that one can only keep their feet on one’s neck, but so long, before a “normal” human response comes into play. Is it me or are we, Philadelphians not dealing with the same type of issues, right here, in Philli, hell we can’t even trust the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission to be “Just!”

  • GT

    There is so very much wrong with this. One is supposed to report with an objective outlook on happenings, not bow to the consumer demand. Its not about having a heart, its about reporting the news. If you want to have a heart, write a blog..

    • DTurner

      Except that the Daily News was probably trying to use the violence to sell more copies with the first edition. It’s a little naive to think that consumer preference is evident in either selection.

      • GT

        Absolutely they were. And then they realized they could sell more copies if they bowed to public opinion and flip the cover. The problem is that both covers paint a picture before you get to the story, so why not use both covers on the same paper. I’m not dumb enough to think that the DN is an objective news source, but they could at least try to look like one.

        • DTurner

          That’s fair, but I don’t think that’s their audience. Unfortunately, news for news sake is really more of a niche demand these days.

          • Dick_Wolf

            A) it’s a column so it’s not supposed to be an objective outlook, it’s supposed to be the writer’s opinion.

            B) The self-congratulations and cover change is a mute point as next to nobody is seeing that second cover today. I picked up a copy of the paper at a box and it has the blatant “let’s show the angry black guy throwing what appears to be a maltov cocktail” cover. The column is about a peaceful protest being met with military force and yet NOWHERE is that indicated by the cover image.

          • Blammm

            That “military force” is riot control, Dick. They’re not even shouldering their weapons. And they’re present because of those events that were depicted in the first edition.

          • DTurner

            It’s the Daily News, objectivity left that publication long, long ago.

  • nissinphilli

    Dead issues don’t sell and btw, the woman in the pix said, “EXCUSE ME,” so accuse the paper of being into “politism,” but do give me the facts………….

    • Palouse_Photog

      Given the way the Ferguson and St. Louis County cops have been abusively arresting anyone who looks cross-eyed at them, I’d say, “Excuse Me,” as well.

  • JD

    THIS SHOWA THAT THE DAILY NEWS HAS NO BALLS!!!! something that was obvious anyay.

  • Susie from Philly

    The headline doesn’t exactly go with the new picture. I much preferred the first one.

    • Paul

      The problem is, the first picture is misleading. Lots of other “action” photos could have been used that accurately would have shown the reality of the situation.

      • Susie from Philly

        Misleading to whom? To people who watch Fox News and have already decided who’s to blame without knowing any of the details? Those people are never going to change based on facts. Why should I care about them?

  • Blammm

    Philadelphia Daily News…. Willfully keeping its readership uninformed since 1925

  • eddiealso

    Media almost always sides with law enforcement they sometimes seem to be their propaganda wing.

  • metroeco

    There’s broad need for reporting of solutions. For reporting the good stuff that people do, not just our failures.

    At the same time, it is essential that taxpayers realize that hiring racist cops is expensive: riot overtime, lawsuits, lower property values, decreased tax base (fewer will move to Ferguson and more will move out), lost business and tourism.

    * indict the shooter for murder
    * fire the chief of police, with veto for new hire
    * reverse militarization of police, end SWAT
    * require police force 50/50 black/white and residents of city
    * require all cops to be college grads with nonviolence training
    * get the cops out of their cars, walking sidewalks again

    * boycott all Ferguson businesses except those that publicly endorse the above.
    * Weekly silent walks through white neighborhoods until the demands are met
    * withhold property taxes until the demands are met
    * establish Freedom Schools that teach civil liberties and mutual aid
    * create and trade community credits (Malcolm X money) that’s backed by local skills and lent interest-free
    * read “How to Take Power”

    • “Lost tourism” was the funniest thing you said. Everything else was insanely idiotic. Made Bunch’s column seem reasonable.

    • Justin

      Some thoughts on your suggested demands: you suggeste indicting the shooter without mention of a thorough investigation. Murder is a serious charge to just throw at someone ‘just because’. Requiring police force to be residents of the city is fair but you say they should be 50/50 black/white. Does that mean if you are native american, hispanic/latino, asian, pacific, or any other race that you cannot be a police officer? Additionally, you can’t just demand a certain number of police officers be a certain race, the most qualified people should be protecting the city, regardless of race.
      Boycotting business drives down tax revenue that is going to be required for this highly educated, highly traned police force you suggest. Silent walks through white neighborhoods will only increase racial tensions. Whites will feel as though they are being blamed for the problems, even though they could have originally been siding with those who are protesting. Witholding property taxes until demands are met exacerbates the problem even more: now the government has even less money to operate this expensive, highly educated and trained police force you desire, and now schools would have less funding, drecreasing the likelihood that students go to college to obtain the degree required to be a poljce officer. Establishing freedom schools could be dne with what money after the boycotting and refusal to pay taxes?

      • metroeco

        Certainly, the formal details of the shooting should be presented to D.A. before indictment. Prima facie evidence strongly suggests its reasonable to call for indictment. Ferguson’s population is 70% black, while cops are 95% white. So rough racial parity still tilts toward the white population, and hispanics, native americans and asians surely would be welcome. In such a racially charged situation, being black far likelier qualifies a candidate officer to communicate with people historically marginalized. The business boycott list would be limited to those businesses which refuse to accept the changes suggested. Presumably the threat to withhold purchases will yield benefits similar to the Montgomery bus boycott. When reforms are won, sales resume. Freedom schools are private nonprofit, teaching skills and heritage that public schools do not.

        • qwerty

          You are braindead

    • qwerty

      you are braindead

  • Palouse_Photog

    I find the first picture to be more eye-catching since it has more color, activeness and drama, in that the item in the man’s hand looks to be a Molotov cocktail. I know that in
    reality it is a tear gas canister that this man is throwing BACK AT a very militarized police force. (I read that on the blog of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer who took the picture.) I can see why editors chose it in some ways, since FIRE catches our eyes and draws attention.

    In terms of more accurately representing the perpetrators of the violence in this situation, the second front page is a more powerful visual message. What is scary is that we could see photos like this from the Gaza Strip or West Bank, and frequently do, but this was taken in AMERICA, where the Constitution and its Amendments are supposed to protect individuals from government overreach while establishing the rules and laws to maintain order. This photo makes it look like the government is waging war upon its citizens.

    I am glad the editors changed their minds after ‘live-action’ public opinion and feedback encouraged the editors to rethink their choices.

  • Former Circ Guy

    The first photo is the compelling shot that would get me to stop and pick up the paper. It was real, it happened, and the fact that it happened in the United States is front page news. Protesting and perhaps disorderly conduct is in the best American tradition, rioting and looting are not.
    Surely, we need answers and openness from a police force that seems incapable of both, but changing the front cover so that the protest looks like what we would hope it would be does not make it so.

    • Helen York

      if you read the fine print on the first cover, the protester is THROWING BACK a canister lobbed at them by the police.

  • yelp46

    Violenence sells and is enjoted by certain demographics.