May 9, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Missing from Myanmar: Food, medical care – and a free press

Myanmar's military rulers have been slow to allow relief into the country after a cyclone killed tens of thousands. Myanmar (also known as Burma) is a country without a free press, the Newseum's Time Warner World News Gallery reports.

How is news of the devastation being reported from a country with a news media scene described as one of the most tightly restricted in the world?

World news organizations are reporting on Cyclone Nargis from neighboring Thailand. Sources have included diplomats, nongovernment organizations and others inside Burma. A Myanmar journalist has shot video for The Associated Press. Citizen journalists have provided information and images.

The Washington Post published a front-page story from inside Burma by a co-founder of Vagabond Reporters International: "Cyclone Survivors Increasingly Desperate Without Food, Safe Water, Medical Care." The Los Angeles Times reported "Myanmar businesses gouge, and monsoon season is coming" in a staff-written story. A story from Toronto's Globe and Mail was datelined Bangkok.

The New York Times focused its staff-produced story on United Nations efforts to get aid workers into Myanmar. The U.N. secretary-general met with the editorial board of the Journal-Constitution during his visit to Atlanta, and the newspaper played up his comments on U.N. efforts to pressure Myanmar.

Many U.S. newspapers are relying on AP for stories and images, along with photos from Reuters and Agency France-Press/Getty. Some, including The Seattle Times, are writing stories from wire-service sources. "For cyclone victims, ‘anger has set in,'" the Chicago Tribune said in a story bylined "Tribune Newspapers."

The New Zealand Herald in Auckland interviewed a cyclone survivor with the help of her New Zealand-based daughter. The Herald combined a photo of the daughter on the phone with a Reuters photo of the destruction.

From Bangkok, The Nation reported that the U.S. ambassador to Thailand showed "the media the team his government would send to Burma." The Star in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, pictured locals packing relief supplies. The Daily Telegraph of London printed a Getty/AFP photo and noted 17 Britons were missing in Myanmar.

"Something borrowed, something blue?" Today's Waco (Texas) Tribune-Herald reports that one bride is blue because her groom and half of the guests for their Saturday wedding are law-enforcement personnel on call because of the Jenna Bush wedding in nearby Crawford. The news media reportedly has not been invited to the Bush wedding, but the Houston Chronicle notes: "Undeterred, the media are sending correspondents to Crawford to cover the wedding, somehow."

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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