July 21, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

There’s no overdoing coverage of Barack Obama’s world tour

We read so much last week about the expected overkill in coverage of Barack Obama’s whirlwind, worldwide tour that we wondered whether the U.S. dailies would follow the lead of the broadcasters — all three television network anchors are on the trip. The simple answer is NO. Indeed, as we looked at today’s front pages we toyed with the idea of writing the assigned analysis with the lead, “The following dailies had nothing about Senator Obama on Page One,” and then listing a few hundred newspapers.

USA Today, the biggest newspaper, does have a Page One photo of the candidate with Afghanistan President Karzai and a story stating that “Obama makes high-stakes debut on foreign stage,” but The New York Times settles for a photo of “A candidate in Kabul” and a story on Page A14, and The Washington Post squares off a story claiming that “For ‘surge’ troops, pride mingles with doubt” and a boldface line about the Obama story on Page A4. That photo in USA Today was liked by many editors; it’s on Page One of The Birmingham News in Alabama with a story about “Iraqi leader’s comments stir tension,” on the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson with its story about “Obama to see Iraqi leader receptive to a timetable,” and as teases to stories inside The Boston Globe, the Daily News in Los Angeles, The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla., and the San Antonio Express-News in Texas.

Some dailies did play up the trip. The Chicago Sun-Times leads with “Obama in the war zone,” with a photo; The Lewiston (Idaho) Tribune squares off at the top of the page “Obama delegation hits Baghdad”; the Las Vegas Review-Journal wants you to know that “Obama urges troop increases” in Afghanistan; The Press in Atlantic City, N.J., leads with “Obama pledges support to Karzai”; the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has an off-lead report that “Obama stirs up a flap on war”; the Arkansas Democrat Gazette in Little Rock reports “Obama to Afghans: ‘We need urgency.’” The Christian Science Monitor from Boston leads with “Obama and McCain on Israel,” has that much-used photo but offers the Obama-Karzai story on Page 11.

At coffee break time, we’re going back to the Bangor Daily News up in Maine to read the Page One story about the bear being killed in a local neighborhood.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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