April 16, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Pope's visit is news across U.S.; a year later, we remember Va. Tech

From Oregon to Florida and Texas to Maine, Pope Benedict XVI's first visit to the U.S. was a natural choice for large front-page photos and stories. Cleveland's Plain Dealer even put a photo of the pope and President Bush above its nameplate. The Anniston (Ala.) Star also showed the pope with the president and gave readers a front-page itinerary for the pope's six-day visit.

Pope Benedict's message on the priest sex scandal was on many front pages. The Citizens’ Voice (Wilkes-Barre , Pa.) quoted the pope in its headline, "Pope 'Deeply Ashamed.'" Eugene, Ore.'s Register-Guard used alliteration to get the message across with "Pope decries pedophile priests."

Even though the pope's visit is confined to two East Coast cities, Tucson's Arizona Daily Star provided local context with the story "Tucsonans are thrilled by chance to see pope." Madison's Wisconsin State Journal allowed readers to see the pope's view, in his own words, on issues such as Iraq, abortion and redemption.

The U.S.'s Spanish-language press, including Hoy in New York and El Nuevo Herald in Miami, gave the pope a lot of room on the front page. Yet the papal arrival wasn’t a universal front-page choice for dailies.

Creative headlines were scarce (perhaps the subject seemed too sacred?), but Los Angeles's Daily News gave us "The Pontiff Has Landed," and the Aurora (Colo.) Sentinel said the pope's first day was punctuated by "Amens and amends."

We would be remiss if we did not pause to remember the first anniversary of the deadly shootings at Virginia Tech. The story dominated the front page for several Virginia papers. The Roanoke (Va.) Times, which published a special section on Sunday, used the headline "We remember" and listed the names of the victims on the front page. The Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch put the victims' names above the nameplate with "4.16.07" in bold. Hampton Roads, Va.'s Link had a remembrance-ribbon illustration, in the Hokies' maroon and burnt orange.

Newspapers in other parts of the nation also remembered. The Times Union (Albany, N.Y.) and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale used the anniversary as a platform to discuss increased campus security. The Times Union included a touching picture of a mourner at the Virginia Tech memorial.

ehedges@newseum.org Emily Hedges is an assistant editor at the Newseum.

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