August 19, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Pakistan’s Musharraf resigns, making Page 1 news in many places

The thinking person’s Big Story today is the downfall of strongman Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan and the confusion that may reign, even if briefly, in his place. And that story choice goes for editors and readers who might not be able to pick out Pakistan on an unlabeled map of the world.

It’s the lead story in The New York Times — “Musharraf out, leaving factions to vie for power;” The Washington Post — “Musharraf exits, but uncertainty remains;” The Washington Times — “Musharraf leaves doubts;” USA Today — “Pakistan’s transition could be rocky;” and The Wall Street Journal — “Musharraf resigns, leaving a shaky Pakistan in his wake.”

Even The Herald in Miami, where Floridians are worried more about a tropical storm than almost anything else, leads with “Pakistan upheaval clouds future for U.S.”

Many of the rest of the U.S. dailies pointed up other aspects of the Pakistan story. For The Denver Post, it’s “Musharraf’s resignation boosts worries over Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, Taliban,” The Oregonian in Portland reports in its off-lead story that “Musharraf resignation puts U.S. in a bind,” Valley News in West Lebanon, N.H., says “Musharraf exit raises new issues,” and The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., leads with “Pakistan tiptoes into a cloudy future without Musharraf.”

The Star-Tribune in Minneapolis has an unchallengeable off-lead — “Pakistan troubles outlast president.” The Yakima Herald-Republic in Washington notes at the bottom of Page One that “Pakistani leader’s exit brings new problems,” The Birmingham News in Alabama anchors the bottom of the page with a photo and “Musharraf leaves leadership void,” Bangor Daily News in Maine reports that “Musharraf’s exit poses challenges” and the Chicago Tribune observes that “Musharraf leaves a nation at crossroads.” The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif., leads with “U.S. faces quandary in Pakistan,” and the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch notes with photo and story that “Musharraf departs, but problems remain.”

Other dailies played it straight, such as The Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune squaring off “Musharraf resigns,” the South Bend Tribune in Indiana leading with “Musharraf announces resignation,” The Arizona Republic in Phoenix reporting at the top of the page “Pakistan’s Musharraf resigns,” and the lead headline in The Philadelphia Inquirer — “Pakistan leader, a key ally, resigns.” We’ll look for the stories about the Pakistan problems later.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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