November 12, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

A king gets some attention for his most un-kingly words

We thought we would start the week by looking at international front pages on our Web site. In particular, we wondered what treatment a contretemps between the King of Spain and would-be president-for-life Hugo Chavez of Venezuela might attract. At an international conference Saturday in Santiago, Chile, Chavez referred to a former prime minister of Spain as a fascist and interrupted other speakers. The King of Spain, in a most un-kingly manner, said to Chavez: “Why don’t you shut up.”

The “shut up” and the follow-up words from Chavez wondering whether Spain was involved in the 2002 coup that briefly ousted him from power indeed attracted Page One coverage today in El Mercurio in Santiago, Chile, in El Mundo in Madrid, in El Pais in Montevideo, Uruguay, and El Universal and Ultimas Noticias in Caracas, Venezuela. Here and there other dailies also thought it worth Page One, such as Gulf News in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with a story at the bottom of the page reporting, “Shut up, Spain’s king tells Chavez,” and The Namibian in Windhoek with a line above the nameplate touting, “King tells Chavez to ‘shut up.’”

Some international dailies also caught up with the death Saturday of American writer Norman Mailer. Die Tageszeitung in Berlin has a large photo of Mailer with a black background and the story inside on Page 3. The International Herald Tribune in Paris has a short Page One item with photo and the story inside, as does SME in Bratislava, Slovakia, and The Press in Christchurch, New Zealand. The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia offers a story with the head, “A brawler with brains loses last bout.” The Guardian in London has a Page One appreciation by Christopher Hitchens with the head, “Farewell to a literary great, with chutzpah.”

American dailies found other things for Page One. The Los Angeles Times is worth a special mention for the story by a staff photographer of the post-combat problems of the man in the iconic “Marlboro Marine” picture. The photo was shot while the photographer was on assignment in Iraq, and the story raises the question of how close a journalist should get to his subject.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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