April 4, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Have we been to the mountaintop?

The 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination was marked by front-page centerpiece packages and lead news stories throughout the U.S. today — from the tiny Erie (Penn.) Times-News to The Seattle Times.

Many of the country’s largest newspapers, however, had nary a mention on their front pages of one of the 20th century’s most shocking crimes — which not only took down a vaunted Civil Rights leader but also touched off fierce rioting. Perhaps some editors didn’t think that a 40th anniversary had as nice a ring as say, the 45th.

Either way, smaller papers clearly took the lead on the story today with many offering innovative front-page graphics, online extras and localized articles. Standard reflection-type pieces were well represented, but there also was new news to report: The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., topped its front page with an exclusive article about King contemporaries who want a re-examination of the murder.

While many designers used historic black-and-white photographs to pair with the copy, a few bucked the trend. The Repository in Canton, Ohio, designed an interesting photo collage for a package that dominated its front, while the Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin used a colorful photo illustration.

The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., where King was slain on April 4, 1968, may have summed up the anniversary best with a classic-looking, full-page design and the heart-stopping headline: “WE REMEMBER.”

Bridget Gutierrez is an exhibits writer at the Newseum.

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