May 20, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Earthquake in China no longer big news for the rest of region

The earthquake in China still makes it to Page One of some American dailies — you'll find stories and/or pictures on the front of The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and other U.S. newspapers — so we thought that we would check out the front pages of newspapers closer to the scene, which proved to be an interesting exercise.

In China itself, yesterday at 2:28 p.m. — a week after the exact time of the earthquake — the nation observed what the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong called "an emotional three minutes' silence in an unprecedented show of public mourning" — this under a banner reading "The nation mourns" and a photo of rescue workers standing silently on the ruins.

If you check out only one front page from and about China, we suggest looking at The Beijing News, which has a photo of a man holding a flower and the 24-hour clock numbers 14:28. Take a look; we'll wait until you come back.

The Wall Street Journal Asia has a story about "Amid grief, Beijing's strong hand." In Tokyo, The Asahi Shimbun has a photo and two stories, one about the rescue efforts, the other asking "A Sichuan-level quake here: Could Japan cope?" The Chosun Ilbo and The Dong-a Ilbo, both in Seoul, South Korea, may have China in a language we cannot read, but the Page One photos are easy to recognize — Barack Obama with thousands of his supporters in Oregon. And that's where the coverage seems to tail off.

The Star in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, has a small photo and a tease to "Quake victims mourned," inside, even as The Nation in Bangkok, Thailand, teases the story inside with "Aftershocks kill 200." Unless we missed it, the dailies in Australia and New Zealand passed on the quake for Page One, although The New Zealand Herald in Auckland has a big Page One photo and the headline "Obama rocks 75,000-strong crowd" and The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia has a smaller photo and claims "Numbers look fine for Obama," while the Financial Review, also in Sydney, also likes the Obama in Oregon photo.

But all is not lost and there are places where people like to laugh. The Press in faraway Christchurch, New Zealand, passes on the earthquake and skips the Oregon photos, but there is a Page One tease with picture for an inside piece about "Seinfeld 10 years later."

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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