April 10, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Olympic torch zigzags; airline passengers zapped

The headline for Wednesday: A change in plans.

Protesters and spectators gathered in San Francisco for the appearance of the Olympic torch, but they were met with a detour. The Chronicle called it a “Tortuous Journey” as the torch was rerouted through the city because of protests over China’s human-rights policy and Tibet independence. The Chronicle paired conflicting images of the day: a torch runner flashing the peace sign and pro- and anti-China protesters arguing toe to toe.

The San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News called it a “Torch shell game” and, like the Chronicle, mapped the announced route and the actual route. The Toronto Star noted that the torch disappeared for a half-hour and called it a “bizarre game of hide-and-seek.”

Headline writers creatively summarized the story. San Francisco Examiner: “City scorches torch activists.” St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times: “Olympic torch zigs, protesters zag.” The Kansas City (Mo.) Star: “The passing of the torch has its problems.”

First Amendment freedoms were represented on Page One — from freedom of speech in San Francisco to freedom of assembly in the form of school protests reported by the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal and the Connecticut Post in Bridgeport. It was freedom of the press in The Star Press of Muncie, Ind., which noted that an elections official was jailed after attacking a reporter covering an election board.

Unfortunately, travelers were not free to fly about the country.

“With plans up in the air, fliers’ frustrations rise,” The Dallas Morning News said after American Airlines cancelled 1,000 flights so it could re-inspect planes. The Star-Telegram pictured the inspection of wiring by the Fort Worth-based airline and broke out: “How much will this cost the airline?” and “What to do if you’re traveling soon.” O’Hare was disrupted, and the Chicago Tribune led with “Airline’s travelers hit hard.”

In the American hub of St. Louis, Mo., the Post-Dispatch pictured two grounded fliers and offered news-you-can-use for consumers. El Nuevo Día in San Juan, Puerto Rico — another busy American location — showed weary travelers. “Traveling by air?” The Seattle Times asked, “Good luck getting there.”

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

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