April 17, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

All the news that’s fit to print barely fits

The front page is only so big, yet today’s pages managed to make room for three significant stories — the first full day of the pope’s U.S. visit, a Democratic debate and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding execution by lethal injection.

Which story took the lead depended upon proximity.

In Washington, Pope Benedict XVI appeared at the White House and addressed American cardinals. The Washington Post pictured Benedict in a sea of well-wishers and digital cameras: “Multitudes Gather for a Glimpse Or, Perhaps, a Touch of the Hand.” The Examiner of Washington focused on his speech at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception: “Benedict: Child sex scandal ‘badly handled.’”

In Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama participated in the 21st debate of the presidential campaign. The Inquirer described “A Bitter Aftertaste” and, in an analysis, said, “Obama had the tougher night.” The Philadelphia Daily News pictured smiling candidates and asked: “Who’ll have the Last Laugh?”

USA Today reported that several states are ready to resume executions after a Supreme Court decision upholding lethal injection. In one of them, Texas, the Houston Chronicle said: “6 from area likely among first to die.” The case originated in Kentucky, where The Courier-Journal of Louisville said, “Court: Punishment isn’t cruel, unusual.” The Tennessean of Nashville broke out “What Happened,” “Tenn. Impact” and “What’s Next.”

The Chicago Tribune managed to feature today’s three big stories — and make room for an enterprise story after the newspaper tested local water and found drugs and chemicals.

But no story offered as much color as Pope Benedict’s Washington events, which continue today. The Boston Globe called it “pomp and substance,” and The Orange County (Calif.) Register said, “Revelry, Reproach.” Benedict’s 81st birthday was noted in La Repubblica in Rome, and a photo with President Bush appeared on Die Welt in the pope’s native Germany. The Providence (R.I.) Journal wrote about its bishop’s surreal experience at the papal gathering. The Religion Newswriters Association estimates that 500 people across the U.S. write about religion in the general news media. Among them is Ann Rodgers, who broke from the pack in her reporting for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Pope wants a spark / Tells U.S. bishops to make Masses lively to keep flock.”

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

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