Antiwar Protests Get Big Play in Sunday Papers

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By: Ari Berman

The Bush administration might not have been paying attention to the large antiwar rallies across the globe over the weekend — 150 nationally, 350 overseas — but U.S. newspapers certainly were.

Hundreds of thousands of protestors marched in areas as disparate as Yakima, Wash., to St. Petersburg, Fla. — gaining front-page coverage in many papers.

In New York, the site of Saturday’s largest national rally — police estimated 100,000 people, organizers up to 400,000 — The New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, and Newsday of Melville, N.Y., all featured some form of page one coverage on Sunday. The Times ran three color photos and a front-page story with more coverage inside. The tabloids also had photos on the front page and stories following inside.

In Hollywood, where 30,000-60,000 comprised Saturday’s second largest national march, the Los Angeles Times ran page one stories on the local, national, and global rallies. The San Francisco rally, pushed back to Sunday due to Chinese New Year celebrations on Saturday, drew an estimated 150,000 marchers and received page one coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Major newspapers also prominently covered smaller rallies in their cities. The Seattle Times, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and The San Diego Union-Tribune ran page one stories. The Sun of Baltimore gave the global rallies page one placement and a local event story ran on page 16. The Houston Chronicle also featured the worldwide rallies on page one but spotlighted 3,000 local demonstrators on page 19. The San Antonio (Texas) Express-News put the national story on page one while the local demonstration garnered page 11 positioning. The paper also profiled the skepticism of some San Antonio residents in a page one story.

Newspapers whose cities did not host local marchers also ran notable stories. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution placed the global protests on page one with the headline “Millions rally against war with Iraq.” Even the conservative, pro-war Boston Herald wrote, “No War! Big Apple protest draws thousands from N.E.” The Boston Globe also ran a page one story. The Denver Post front page covered the controversial march in Colorado Springs, Colo., in which police used tear gas on rowdy demonstrators. The Washington Post conveyed worldwide antiwar sentiment on page one and then reported the New York rally on A22.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch placed local demonstrators on A10 but wrote a blistering antiwar editorial the same day. “If Mr. Bush were to listen with an open mind to the inspectors’ report, if he were to pay attention to the big anti-war demonstrations around the world this weekend, and if he were to heed the shrinking domestic support for the war, he would keep the 101st Airborne on this side of the Atlantic while providing the inspectors vigorous support,” the paper editorialized.

Newsday provided perhaps the weekend’s most lengthy coverage for a paper that editorially had espoused hawkish views. The Sunday New York City edition featured four-color photos of rallies in London, New York, Berlin, and Paris and then followed with six pages of antiwar coverage, including a page-two column by Jimmy Breslin praising a New York crowd “that turned cold sidewalks into beautiful gardens.”

In covering the protests, the New York Post and New York Daily News followed their usual editorial style. The Post ran a page one photo exhibiting a scuffle between a policeman on a horse and a local demonstrator while the Daily News showed police beating one of their photographers on page two.

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