August 14, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Athletes on Global Stage, Local Front Pages

The Olympics are maintaining a presence on front pages the world over, but for some newspapers the Summer Games in Beijing are a local news story.

The biggest story thus far has been American swimmer Michael Phelps, but with Phelps not racing on Wednesday, what were newspapers to do? Some chose to stand by their man anyway, especially those in his hometown of Baltimore. There, The Examiner doesn’t have a front-page article but notes that “Phelps earns a rest” while teasing readers to pages 6 and 7. Meanwhile, The Sun is running an article about the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, where Phelps, along with female swimmer Katie Hoff, trained. The Sun calls Baltimore the current “cradle of American swimming.”

On the other side of the globe, down under the equator, Australians love their swimmers, too. Stephanie Rice, a native of Brisbane, won the 200-meter individual medley for her second gold medal of the Games. Her hometown paper, The Courier-Mail, heralds her success today with a full-page photo and a headline that notes Rice is “Twice as Nice.”

American beach-volleyball duo Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor have won so much in recent years — their undefeated streak stands at 104 matches, including their latest win over a pair of Norwegians — that it’s hardly news anymore. Both women grew up on California’s Pacific Coast, but most local front pages passed on them. An exception: the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, which is very near May-Treanor’s home community of Costa Mesa and which uses a front-page corner to refer readers to the sports section.

Also yesterday was the men’s all-around gymnastics championship, where American Jonathan Horton finished ninth. The Houston Chronicle shows “Jonathan Horton of Houston” competing on the pommel horse. Taking the gold was China’s Yang Wei. He lives in Beijing, but The Beijing News still seems to be celebrating, with six front-page photos, the Chinese women’s team victory from the night before last.

In Iowa, papers are looking not to the past, but the future. The Gazette in Cedar Rapids previews the women’s all-around gymnastics final, slated to air tonight on NBC. Iowan Shawn Johnson, whom The Gazette refers to as “Shawn Johnson of West Des Moines,” is headlining both the event final and the front page. The Times-Republican in Marshalltown, Iowa, has a big photo of the petite Johnson and a story on poll results that show 55 percent of Americans approve of China’s hosting the Games this year, despite the country’s human-rights issues.

And many newspapers, it seems, approve of the Olympics’ stories.

Hicks Wogan is a staff assistant at the Newseum.

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