February 19, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

The clock plays a key role in what is on Page One today

This is the day when the clock probably played a key role in what you may find on Page One of your favorite newspapers.

One of the major stories today is that Fidel Castro is stepping down as president of Cuba after almost 50 years. The announcement was made overnight. A quick check of the hundreds of front pages on our Web site shows only a couple of dailies with the story — the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska leads with “Fidel Castro announces retirement” and The Honolulu Advertiser plays up “Castro resigns as Cuban president.” They were the front pages with a time advantage.

Then there’s the election in Pakistan. If you’re on the U.S. West Coast, you’ll find that “Musharraf’s party losing in Pakistan” in the Los Angeles Times. In middle America, readers found “Musharraf foes cheer early Pakistan returns” in the Chicago Tribune. On the East Coast, The New York Times leads with “Pakistani voters deal Musharraf crushing defeat,” The Washington Post plays up “Pakistanis deal a blow to Musharraf” and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution offers an interpretive head “Pakistanis reject U.S. ally.”

Yesterday’s independence for Kosovo isn’t a one-day wonder of a story in Europe, where the impact is still being considered and felt. Indeed, the Page One head in La Tribune in Paris refers to “Europe and the challenge of free Kosovo,” while the Sueddeutsche Zeitung in Munich, Germany, reports “The West recognizes Kosovo.” It’s the lead story in Gazeta Wyborcza in Warsaw, Poland, and Corriere della Sera in Milan, Italy, and has major Page One treatment in Mlada Fronta DNES in Prague, Czech Republic, El Punt in Barcelona, Spain, and SME in Bratislava, Slovakia. The Guardian in London has a small item at the bottom of the page, reporting that “Britain recognises Kosovo breakaway.” It’s all a far cry from a universal warm welcome to the new little country of Kosovo, giving pause to a number of European nations, both east and west. Indeed, even the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong has a Page One story reporting “Beijing ‘worried’ over Kosovo,” as are several countries with activist ethnic minorities that might seek to emulate what the Albanians in Kosovo have done.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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