May 16, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Politics and pulpit: Falwell’s life and legacy reviewed

He was called a “folksy preacher,” “TV evangelist,” “Religious Right crusader” and “An icon, minister, man.”

The death of the Rev. Jerry Falwell left headline writers with the task of summing up a spiritual leader’s life and influence.

“A pioneer of pulpit power,” said The Des Moines (Iowa) Register, which illustrated four areas in which the creator of the Moral Majority “made his presence felt.”

The news of Falwell’s death at 73 was carried across the country, but it dominated front pages in his home state of Virginia. Hometown newspaper, The News & Advance of Lynchburg, devoted the entire page to a tribute to the founder of local Liberty University and referred to a 10-page special section. “Spiritual leader retained the style of a folksy, small-town preacher,” the Danville Register & Bee said. A photo of the grief at Liberty University appeared in The Roanoke Times and other newspapers. The Daily Press of Newport News explained “Why you should know about Jerry Falwell.”

The political right also was in the news in South Carolina, where 10 GOP presidential candidates gathered. “Debate turned heated on 9-11 attacks, abortion,” said The Herald in Rock Hill, which pictured all 10. “Take that back!” the Daily News of New York said, picturing former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who “rips GOP rival for saying U.S. to blame for 9/11.”

A leadership transfer was noted by Le Figaro of Paris, which pictured Nicolas Sarkozy, who took over the presidency of France today from Jacques Chirac.

U.S. soldiers missing in Iraq were identified as from Fort Drum’s 10th Mountain Division. The nearby Post-Standard of Syracuse, N.Y., named the troops and said the search goes on. The Daily Breeze of Torrance, Calif., quoted the father of one of the soldiers: “We have to wait.”

Today’s headlines: “Vote goes awry, town goes dry,” the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle said about Potter, a town of 1,800 that accidentally banned beer sales because of confusing ballot questions and outdated state regulation. “Scratch and stiffed?” asked the Ocala (Fla.) Star-Banner about a disagreement over a lottery ticket. The holder says he won $500,000; the state says the ticket was a misprint.

Kate Kennedy, a former newspaper Page One editor, is director/diversity programs.

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