December 28, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Page One reflects a country in mourning and in chaos

Violence and grief gripped Pakistan after the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and the news was carried prominently around the world.

“Bhutto slaying plunges Pakistan into turmoil,” the Chicago Tribune said in a banner headline. “Grief and Fury Sweep Pakistan,” The Sun of Baltimore said. The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., highlighted pieces of the story: “Blame game,” “Voting uncertain,” and “Strategy falters.”

U.S. newspapers had most of a day to report for this morning’s front page. They focused on the violent aftermath, the impact on the upcoming Pakistani election and analysis. “Pakistan bleeds,” The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tenn., said. “A life gone, a country in chaos,” The Olympian of Olympia, Wash., said.

The Los Angeles Times noted that the killing was decried worldwide. The news appeared on front pages from The Beijing News to Morgunbladid in Reykjavik, Iceland, to The Daily Al Bayan, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Many U.S. front pages looked at the impact on foreign policy. “Killing in Pakistan imperils U.S. work,” the Detroit Free Press said. The Los Angeles Times said: “By focusing on a person, U.S. could lose a region.” The crisis in Pakistan will remain an issue for the next U.S. president. “Viewpoints on foreign policy take on added significance,” The Des Moines (Iowa) Register said from the campaign trail.

Reaction from Pakistanis in the U.S. also was reported. The Detroit News said the assassination was perceived by its Pakistani community as “another act endangering their relatives, threatening to derail democracy and dimming the brightest hopes of generations.” “Pakistanis in Valley stunned, but hopeful,” The Fresno (Calif.) Bee said. “Heartache for Pakistani-Americans Here,” the Valley News in West Lebanon, N.H., said.

Images were important in telling the story. The Miami Herald and The Philadelphia Inquirer used a series of photos to create a timeline. Photos of anguish appeared in The Washington Post and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Pictures of supporters carrying Bhutto’s coffin were used by other newspapers, including The Boston Globe. The Rocky Mountain News in Denver used a photo of Bhutto speaking at a rally minutes before the shooting. Its headline: “Hope takes a bullet.”

kkennedy@freedomforum.org Kate Kennedy is front-pages editor at the Newseum.

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