April 18, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Papal Mass a bit of heaven; earthly sins discussed in private

“Prayers, public and private” appeared on Page One a day after Pope Benedict XVI said Mass at Washington Nationals’ stadium and talked privately with victims of priest sexual abuse.

The Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal used one of a host of photos available from the Mass. The Denver Post pictured “Faces in the Crowd,” and The Bradenton (Fla.) Herald pictured three views. The Daily Herald of suburban Chicago matched its colorful photo with a bright headline: “Sermon on the mound.” The Star Tribune of Minneapolis summed up the excitement: “For Catholics, a bit of heaven.”

“45,000 united by one man,” the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle said. Yet, coverage of the spiritual leader of more than 1 billion people worldwide and news about priest sex abuse, a story that had national impact, did not appear on front pages in some places.

The Times-Picayune of New Orleans noted the “landmark meeting” about abuse, saying: “Benedict makes issue centerpiece of his visit.” The five who met privately with Benedict came from Massachusetts, where the Globe said: “Tears, prayers as pope meets with abuse victims from Boston.” The Globe’s story was written by religion writer Michael Paulson, who has been blogging the visit.

Other front pages offered local angles. Several, including the Press-Register of Mobile, Ala., reported on those who attended Thursday’s events: “Mobilians moved by sight of pope.” The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle focused on Benedict’s comments on education and included a sidebar on Catholic schools.

“Next Stop: NY,” announced Newsday on Long Island. The Advance in Stamford, Conn., pictured two young men who will serve as altar servers. The Journal News of Westchester County, which has had excellent advance coverage by religion reporter Gary Stern, used a graphic to explain “Pope’s busy schedule.” The New York Times reported Benedict’s meeting with sexual-abuse victims in its lefthand column but put photos and other coverage inside.

Flashback: Today’s Oshkosh Northwestern takes a step back in time — to 1934 — to report on the filming of Universal Studio’s “Public Enemies” in the Wisconsin city. “Downtown Shoot Out,” blares the banner headline on the black-and-white page. Below, a photo shows Johnny Depp as John Dillinger in a bank-robbery scene.

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

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