August 13, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Phelps collects more gold; ceasefire promised in Georgia

Battles in Asia and Europe continued to monopolize front-page photos and stories.

From Europe came news of a brokered Russia-Georgia truce even as fighting and troop movement continued. The Guardian of London illustrated the tone of the ceasefire in its headline: “Surrender, or else, Russia tells Georgia.”

From Asia came news of swimmer Michael Phelps’ continued battle for a record eight gold medals in one Olympics. “More records fall in Phelps’ wake,” The Boston Globe said over a stand-alone photo of Phelps, who won his fourth and fifth gold medals in Beijing — his 10th and 11th career gold medals.

The Kansas City (Mo.) Star was among U.S. newspapers that included both Georgia fighting and the Olympics on their front pages. “Cease-fire message: Russia is boss again,” the Star Tribune of Minneapolis said in an off-lead. Its centerpiece: “Phelps has most golds ever; U.S. gymnasts capture silver.” The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., labeled its Olympic centerpiece “The Unstoppable Mr. Phelps” and said lower on the page, “Russia agrees to halt military action in Georgia.”

In a sign of the significance of the Russia-Georgia story, the Los Angeles Times published three related stories on its front page, including: “U.S. experts say Russia’s goal in the Georgia battle has been to lay claim to a sphere of influence.” Said the Chicago Tribune: “Russia-Georgia clash leaves lasting damage.” The New York Times reported a cyberwar against Georgia that coincided with the Russian assault on the former Soviet country.

Three journalists have been reported killed covering the fighting. In the Netherlands, DAG in Amsterdam and AD in Rotterdam pictured Stan Storimans, an RTL television cameraman, who was reportedly killed in the bombing.

The Toronto Star called Beijing “The Olympics of Illusion” after accusations of lip-synching and fake fireworks marred what was considered a fantastic opening ceremony. In this age of fake, the Chicago Tribune had its culture critic survey the reaction to the lip-synching of the unofficial Chinese anthem by a girl “prettier” than the singer: “Oh well, whatever, never mind.”

With world records being smashed, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel looked at the new Speedo suit and asked: “Is it the swimmer or suit?” Dave Barry suggested on The Miami Herald’s front page that the solution to the U.S.-China medal rivalry might be beer pong: “We would KILL China in beer pong.” And from South Africa, The Times pictured a beach volleyball player “Kicking butt.” “Yes, it is a sport,” The Times noted about beach volleyball.

Kate Kennedy is front-pages editor at the Newseum.

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