June 24, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

60th anniversary of Berlin Blockade attracts little newspaper attention

Sixty years ago, West Berlin – occupied by U.S., British and French forces – was totally surrounded by Russian-occupied East Berlin and East Germany. And 60 years ago today, the Russians cut off all road, rail and water access to and from West Berlin. The blockade was on; the Berlin Airlift was to start two days later. You’ll find a reference in some of the “This day in history” sites, such as this from The New York Times: “On this day” service: “Communist forces cut off all land and water routes between West Germany and West Berlin, prompting the United States to organize a massive airlift.”

We thought German newspapers would be marking the day in some fashion, but if they are, it’s not on Page One, with a few exceptions. Der Tagesspiegel, the primary newspaper in the American sector of Berlin, which started in 1945, has a Page One photo of the Airlift Memorial with teases to three stories inside and a head proclaiming “That was the airlift.” However, we couldn’t find any reference to the airlift on Page One of the other two Berlin dailies on our site, Die Welt and Die Tageszeitung.

We also checked the front page of the daily published in Germany for American troops in Europe, Stars and Stripes. Again, nary a word to remind today’s military of their heritage. However, we did find brief stories on the two dailies published in Bremen, the Weser-Kurier and the Bremer Nachrichten. Not the showing we expected. Perhaps they’ll do better Thursday, to mark the start of the airlift.

What are the German dailies playing up, you ask? The Heilbronner Stimme in Heilbronn has an impressive photo of a lightning strike to go with the story about the changing climate in the country; the Sueddeutsche Zeitung in Munich plays up a story about a debt limit for the nation and the states; the Fuldaer Zeitung in Fulda has a large keel-up photo of the ferry that sank in the Philippines plus a story; and the Saechsische Zeitung in Dresden tells its readers that smart cards are planned for all workers, but that is topped with large picture of a blonde Canadian singer who – and we’re not making this up — reportedly is heating up Dresden’s young guard.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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