April 30, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Obama’s breakup tops news

Breaking up is hard to do, especially when the split occurs at the height of your campaign for the presidency.

Sen. Barack Obama’s public distancing from his former pastor was front-page fodder across the country. “Obama’s Achilles’ Heel?” The Bakersfield Californian asked. The New York Post promised a scoop in “BARACK STABBER” with a story that says the Rev. Jeremiah Wright “delights in revenge on ‘traitor’ Obama.” “Test of faith,” pronounced Colorado’s Aurora Sentinel, with a dramatic side-view image of Obama, eyes downcast.

The Chicago Sun-Times filled its tabloid-sized front with a typographical treatment of the story: “What Obama Now Thinks of Rev. Wright: ‘Divisive’ ‘Outrageous’ ‘Appalling’ ‘Objectionable’ ‘Offensive’ ‘Inexcusable.’ ” Teasers promised six more pages of coverage inside on the matter.

The St. Petersburg Times had a gloomy analysis by its political editor, Adam Smith, writing from Indiana: “Obama doomed in small towns.” And in a headline we wish we’d written, the Metro-Boston Edition blared, “Obama declares Wright is wrong.” “Candidate lets down some of N.J. clergy,” wrote Newark, N.J.’s Star-Ledger, in a reaction story from fellow pastors.

But with one candidate’s strife comes another’s opportunity. “Hillary Thrills Hobart,” reported the Post-Tribune in Merrillville, Ind., with a kitchen-table photo of Sen. Hillary Clinton surrounded by voters and cameras.

The news that baseball superstar Roger Clemens, already besieged by accusations that he used steroids, had a relationship with then-under-age country singer Mindy McCready inspired the Nashville Tennessean to do a Page One story on the career crisis for both stars.

In yet another sign of the spasms in the newspaper business, Today’s Local News in San Marcos, Calif., announced in front-page letter to readers that it would go from a Wednesday through Sunday publication to just Wednesday and Sunday, starting May 7.

prhule@newseum.org Patty Rhule is a project editor at the Newseum.

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