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The Biggest Headlines Of Late 2017 — Literally

I analyzed six months of newspapers’ front pages. Here’s what I found.

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Every day, newspapers around the country upload their front pages to the Newseum's website. Being a news junkie and a data-mining enthusiast, I started downloading the PDFs of these front pages earlier this year and analyzing them.

In a year full of significant events, it can be tough to say what news was the most important. These PDFs, however, can tell us what was the biggest news...literally: For each of the 10 major newspapers below, I identified their five largest headlines — as measured by font size — from the second half of 2017.

It’s not a perfect approach — large fonts aren’t the only way to emphasize a story, and some typefaces look bigger than others at the same font size — but this metric has the advantage of being simple, and easy to understand.

(Note: For technical reasons, I wasn’t able to extract the headlines from the New York Times or the New York Post.)


The Wall Street Journal

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#1: ‘It Was Just a Kill Box’ — Oct. 3 — 72.3pt font

#2, tied: Terror Strikes Barcelona — Aug. 18 — 67.4pt

#2, tied: Rain, Floods Deluge Texas — Aug. 28 — 67.4pt

#2, tied: Terror Rampage in New York — Nov. 1 — 67.4pt

#5, tied with 100+ more: Kabul Bomb Sows Carnage — Jun. 1 — 56.15pt


The Washington Post

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#1: 59 die in Las Vegas attack — Oct. 3 — 104.85pt

#2: Irma strafes Florida coast — Sep. 11 — 75.73pt

#3: 3 Trump campaign officials charged — Oct. 31 — 74.56pt

#4, tied with eight others: Ivanka Inc. — Jul. 16 — 69.90pt

#4, tied with eight others: Attackers strike London — Jun. 4 — 69.90pt


USA Today

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#1: CATASTROPHE — Aug. 28 — 128.94pt

#2: THE WALL — Sep. 20 — 127.71pt

#3: ‘A COWARDLY ACT’ — Nov. 1 — 109.48pt

#4: ‘AN ACT OF PURE EVIL’ — Oct. 3 — 104.65pt

#5: Gunman kills 26 at church service — Nov. 6 — 88.06pt


Los Angeles Times

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#1: THIS TEAM! — Oct. 20 — 168.56pt

#2: ‘Like a blowtorch’ — Oct. 11 — 109.99pt

#3: A CITY PUMMELED — Aug. 28 — 106.40pt

#4: MEXICO JOLTED BY A DEADLY 7.1 QUAKE — Sep. 20 — 104.01pt

#5: MAYHEM IN VEGAS: ‘LIKE A WAR ZONE’ — Oct. 3 — 100.43pt


New York Daily News

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#1: ALL EVEN — Oct. 10 — 329.54pt

#2: POISON BILL — Nov. 19 — 303.97pt

#3: PURE JOY — Oct. 12 — 301.81pt

#4: HIM AGAIN — Nov. 8 — 297.68pt

#5: GONE GIRL — Nov. 9 — 294.65pt


Chicago Tribune

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#1: ‘ACT OF PURE EVIL’ — Oct. 3 — 125.4pt

#2: Out at home — Oct. 20 — 117.6pt

#3: TRUMP UNSCRIPTED — Aug. 16 — 110.4pt

#4: Trump’s victory lap — Dec. 21 — 108.9pt

#5: BRYZZNESS IS BOOMING — Oct. 7 — 102.3pt


Chicago Sun Times

#1: THAT’S WON! — Oct. 16 — 306.84pt

#2: FAKE PRESIDENT — Aug. 16 — 299.68pt

#3: FROM RUSSIA WITH ‘LOVE’ — Jul. 12 — 258.35pt

#4, tied: OT BLUES — Oct. 4 — 257.51pt

#4, tied: SODA FLOP — Oct. 7 — 257.51pt


The Dallas Morning News

#1: ‘Horrific tragedy’ — Nov. 6 — 134.74pt

#2: Moments in history — Jul. 7 — 129.98pt

#3: Only the start — Aug. 27 — 116.99pt

#4, tied: Devastating deluge — Aug. 28 — 113.46pt

#4, tied: Helping hands — Aug. 29 — 113.46pt

#4, tied: Starting to dig out — Sep. 1 — 113.46pt


San Jose Mercury News

#1: #MeToo — Oct. 22 — 209.67pt

#2: HOPE AMID THE ASHES — Nov. 12 — 125.42pt

#3: TECH’S DIRTY LITTLE SECRET — Jul. 9 — 122.21pt

#4, tied: IRMA — ‘REALITY HAS SETTLED IN’ — Sep. 11 — 117.92pt

#4, tied: THE BIG REVEAL — Sep. 10 — 117.92pt


The Denver Post

#1: Guide to the eclipse — Aug. 21 — 141.73pt

#2: “ACT OF EVIL” — Nov. 6 — 124.52pt

#3: Grief, confusion — Oct. 3 — 118.52pt

#4: At a net loss — Sep. 10 — 116.6pt

#5: Oil in Colorado’s political machine — Jul. 16 — 109.8pt


You can find the code I used for this analysis on GitHub, and a few more details in this blog post.

Sam is a software engineer in Boulder, CO.

Contact Sam Zhang at shimian.zhang@gmail.com.

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