March 19, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Four years of war, sweet 16, 40 brands of cat food and “bong hits 4 Jesus”

The fourth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq dominated domestic front pages this day, with editors giving major play to assessments of the war’s cost, the public’s mood and progress made. Weekend protests across the country provided key art for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and others, but several papers went with graphic packages that sampled iconic imagery from the past four years. The toppling of a Baghdad statue of Saddam Hussein, soldiers and their families, flag-draped coffins and troops in the field showed up on many Page Ones.

The Lima (Ohio) News devoted most of the page to a boxed headline “Iraq: 4 years later” above nine portraits of a diverse group of citizens, each standing in front of a U.S. flag. The Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star headline focused on “The cost of war” and included comparisons to Vietnam and Korea. “Evolution of a war” from The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C. and “Shock & evolve,” from Chicago’s Daily Herald, also focused on the conflict’s cost. The Tallahassee(Fla.) Democrat sought a more positive spin, “Accomplishments amid the chaos.”

The international edition of The Miami Herald led with the war’s anniversary and protests, but the local edition celebrated Florida’s advancement into the sweet 16 of college basketball’s playoffs. For cities with team’s still in the running, including the running Rebels of the University of Nevada — Las Vegas, hoops dreams were a major part of above-the-fold coverage. Both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times marked the Southern Illinois University Salukis’ victory with “Southern cookin’” headlines.

But the Memphis Tigers weren’t the only felines on the front page. “Changing the menu” was the big story in the Southeast Missourian of Cape Girardeau while The Morning Call of Allentown, Penn., went with “Pet food recall fear strikes Valley.”

Free Speech Alert: The Fresno (Calif.) Bee picked up a Washington Post article about “the most important student free-speech conflict to reach the U.S. Supreme Court since the height of the Vietnam War.” The high court is scheduled to decide whether high school student Joseph Frederick had a right to display his “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banner at a public gathering in Juneau, Alaska.

Michael Fetters is director of marketing and communications for the Newseum.

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