September 5, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

McCain’s acceptance speech uses words of reformer, maverick

John McCain’s speech accepting the Republican nomination for president was almost 4,000 words long. Two of those words stood out in today’s headlines: Fight and change.

“McCain issues a call to fight for country,” The Arizona Republic in Phoenix said about the Arizona senator who has made his maverick style a campaign theme. The New York Times noted that McCain used the word “fight” 43 times during the speech. The Chicago Tribune and The Indianapolis Star used one of those references: “‘Stand up and fight.’”

Florida newspapers seized on the use of the word “change” by the four-term senator. “‘Change is coming,’ McCain promises GOP,” The Tampa Tribune said. “McCain wows audience at RNC, says ‘change is coming,’” the Tallahassee Democrat said. “Change coming, McCain pledges,” said Florida Today in Melbourne. “‘Change is coming’ in D.C., nation, McCain promises,” The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville said.

The Kansas City (Mo.) Star and The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle combined the use of the two words. “McCain says he’ll fight for change,” the Eagle said. In reverse type, The Kansas City Star printed the quote “‘Fight for what’s right’” and added below, “Change is coming, nominee vows.”

Beyond coverage of the speech, the U.S.’s largest newspapers took different approaches to sidebars. The New York Times said in an analysis, “The Party in Power, Running as if It Weren’t.” The Los Angeles Times examined how the Republican Party “portrays itself as in sync with America.” The Washington Post took a more broad view, looking at the next 60 days for both Republicans and Democrats. USA Today suggested “Seismic shifts in demographics … could reshape America’s political system.”

McCain’s photo appeared in the center of the Anchorage Daily News, but the three stories were about his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press reported that hundreds more anti-war protesters were arrested in the convention city. Its Web site included a database of county jail bookings.

In his speech, McCain, a veteran, mentioned his support of the military “surge” in Iraq. The Washington Post (prompted by a report by Fox News) previewed Bob Woodward’s new book The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008. The Post quoted the book as saying “the U.S. troop ‘surge’ … was not the primary factor behind the steep drop in violence there during the past 16 months.”

In Detroit, the Free Press and The News reported McCain’s speech on their regular front pages. They also responded to their mayor’s resignation after pleading guilty to felony charges in a perjury case. The Free Press published a 20-page section. “Scandal that crippled city ends with 2 felony convictions, 4 months in jail,” it said. The News printed an eight-page section that was highlighted by the word “Surrender.”

Kate Kennedy is front-pages editor at the Newseum.

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