Each day, the New York tabloids vie to sell readers at the newsstands on outrageous headlines, dramatic photography, and, occasionally, great reporting. Who is today’s winner?Daily News: In the immediate days after Whitney Houston’s death there are two kinds of “news”: Previously unreported facts about the singer’s life, and previously unreported facts surrounding the singer’s death (including cause of death, funeral arrangements, the reactions of relatives and the disposition of her assets). There was news yesterday in a couple of these categories. More details emerged about Houston’s daughter’s emotional breakdown in the wake of her mother’s death; there were more statements from famous people close to the pop star; and Houston’s body is being flown to Newark in advance of a planned giant public funeral there on Friday.None of these is on the front page of the News. Instead, there is a reflection on the plummeting finances of the singer in the years leading up to her death. As recently as a month ago there were reports that Houston was asking friends for $100 loaners; and in June of last year Sony Music’s Clive Davis had loaned Houston $1.2 million to settle debts and enter rehabilitation. There is no cash, in other words, in this estate.But that’s the old news. The forward-looking thing to do, as the News does inside the paper, is to point out that Michael Jackson’s catalogue sold to the tune of $273 million in the year following his death. If Houston’s catalogue does half as well, it’s a heftier payout for her heir, 18-year-old daughter Bobby Kristina Brown, than most can expect from their richest possible post-mortem benefactors.So the front page, which carries a small picture of Houston with the text “DIED BROKE,” is both misleading and old, if that makes sense. “Whitney went from $100M deal to the skids,” reads the dek. It doesn’t quite do justice to the reporting inside.In the “moving on” department: Here’s Kate Upton! The 19-year-old model appears in the Sports Illustrated 2012 Swimsuit Issue for the second time, but for the first time as its cover model, a coveted position that has launched many supermodels over the years. The issue was promoted last night on The Late Show With David Letterman and hits newsstands today. Reproducing the entire cover of the Swimsuit Issue on your front page gets you a bite at sales Sports Illustrated enjoys by putting barely-dressed women on the newsstand; but it’s also legitimate news in a way, one of the most significant annual media events in terms of bottom line. (More significant, probably, than Time magazine’s person of the year, which may be a sign they need to pick younger, prettier people and dress them more scantily in future.)But the News tries to go further, pushing a sort of media analysis story. “BABY, LOOK AT ME NOW” reads the yellow text. The current Upton cover is on the left, and to be sure, this bikini she is wearing could really not be smaller, especially the bottom. On the right, the 1964 cover, showing Barbette March wearing a white bikini that is a boy-pant on the bottom and a sort of bandeau with straps on the top. It’s pretty tame!The problem I’m having is that they go ahead with the exercise inside. The year after the 1964 issue with an actual two-piece bathing suit, the cover featured Sue Peterson, wearing a big maillot-style bathing suit with cutouts on the sides; even less revealing is the Cheryl Tiegs 1970 cover, in which she appears to be wearing a long-sleeved rugby shirt and mens briefs. Christie Brinkley’s 1979 cover was hardly racier. In fact, the next bikini they show is Tyra Banks in 1992. It leads one to wonder whether a full gallery of all the covers would actually show this bikini entropy growing consistently over the decades.New York Post: The Post, for its part, makes the transaction transparent. An inside picture of Upton from the S.I. spread takes up much of the page; she’s wearing another tiny bikini, this one pink with little white hearts (happy Valentine’s Day!) in a wrap-around that grabs three-quarters of the page. Much smaller is the inset of the actual cover of the Swimsuit Issue. “Hey,” reads the knockout-white text, “she’s good enough for SI’s cover, why not ours?” (In fact there is an answer for that, but we’ll leave it out right now.)Strangely, all this desexed sexiness wraps around a story featuring a postage-stamp sized headshot of … Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. In case you haven’t heard, on Thursday a machete-wielding intruder at Breyer’s vacation home on the Caribbean island of Nevis threatened him, his wife and some guests who were playing cards, took about $1,000 in cash and fled on foot. What confuses me is how this story, which was reported in The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer on Saturday, only broke wide in the U.S. yesterday on the web. Anyway, for the hed we get a pretty good if straight shoot: “THUG MUGS JUDGE.” The dek is more likely to grab eyeballs: “Supreme justice’s machete terror.”Observations: Well, everyone’s doing their jobs today. The News is analyzing Whitney Houston’s finances as a way of getting the singer’s picture on the front page for one more day, and draping a gauzy wrap of legitimacy over its attempt to get horny newsstand-goers to pick them up. The Post makes a joke about its own transparent efforts at same, and gives us a pretty good story about a machete attack on a Supreme Court justice in the Caribbean. So the News will appeal to lowbrow moralizers (Whitney was so irresponsible! The swimsuit edition is getting too racy!) while the Post appeals to highbrow moral lassitude (We know you’ll buy this Kate Upton issue! Can you believe Breyer was attacked in his summer estate?)The thing is, I think the Post will look fresher to its constituencies than the News will to its own. Whitney Houston’s still trending of course, but I think people will feign boredom with the story until someone has a real story to write. The paper should have saved her for Friday’s funeral. And the News’ approach to the Swimsuit Issue leaves them with too small a picture of Kate Upton. On the cover of the Post she’s practically actual-sized.Winner: New York Post.