April 11, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Slovak newspapers use few words to make a statement

The power of the newspaper front page was tested today in Europe, where main newspapers in Slovakia used blank pages and editorials to protest a new media law.

Journalists say the law violates freedom of the press and editorial independence. Slovakia’s cultural minister says the law guarantees accuracy. Leading Slovak daily SME from Bratislava left its page blank, except for an editorial. The page had a black “funeral frame.” To journalists, press freedom is black-and-white.

In the United States, the Houston Chronicle also gave special treatment to an important story. During a week that President Bush announced an indefinite suspension of troop withdrawals from Iraq, the Chronicle marked “A Somber Milestone” when the “Area’s War Toll Reaches 100.” The Chronicle printed the 100 names of men and women who “sought to serve and gave lives doing so.”

Bush also announced Thursday that combat tours would be reduced to 12 months. The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., pictured a military family and said: “Bush promises shorter Iraq tours for troops.” The Orange County (Calif.) Register included comments from presidential candidates.

As the one-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings approaches, news of a settlement for families of victims was reported by The Washington Post and the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch. USA Today used its cover-story space to report that “For families and survivors, grief becomes call to action.” The Roanoke (Va.) Times, which covered the shootings extensively, plans a special section in Sunday’s newspaper.

The Washington Post also pictured the Newseum and noted today’s opening.

Is that the front page or the sports page? The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle looks like it has Mastered coverage of the men’s golf championship. Scores from the first round were printed above the nameplate, and the entire page was devoted to The Masters. In another golfing hot spot, Florida, The Palm Beach Post used an image of Arnold Palmer hitting an honorary first tee shot as its dominant photo.

It was another sport that made the cover of the New York Post. “Curses!” said the Post, which pictured a Red Sox T-shirt and reported that a construction worker had buried a Boston T-shirt under a concrete slab in the visitors’ clubhouse at the new Yankee Stadium.

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

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