“President Obama Election 2008: A Collection of Newspaper Front Pages” by the Poynter Institue (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $15 paperback; $25 limited-edition hardcover).
When Barak Obama made history on Nov. 4, 2008, as the first black elected president, newspapers across the world were there to document, dissect and, sometimes, celebrate the moment. Americans lined up the next morning to own a piece of that history in the form of their hometown newspapers. As racks emptied, presses were fired back up to reprint thousands, and in several cases hundreds of thousands, of copies of what became a coveted souvenir of the election.
“President Obama Election 2008: A Collection of Newspaper Front Pages” chronicles not just the election outcome but the worldwide perspective of the newspapers that covered it.
Edited by Julie Moos and Sarah Quinn of the Poynter Institute, a journalism school in St. Petersburg, Fla., the book begins with an introduction by Doonesbury creator G.B. Trudeau. What follows is a collection of 78 front pages from most of the 50 states and a dozen foreign countries. Images were culled from thousands of newspapers and chosen for page design, geographic diversity and historical importance.
The general tone of each page is joyful or proud, due primarily to the power of the photography and the carefully crafted headlines. Relive the emotion of the moment as you read “It’s Obama,” “Obama makes history,” “Face of change,” Change has come to America” and “Yes he did.”
See 25 different ways to visually present election results, read local commentaries about the race and look at photos capturing people celebrating across the United States.
Every newspaper has its own look, and each has its own criteria for choosing what photos to use and what kinds of stories, if any, to put on its cover. Side-by-side comparisons give a clear picture of how news on the front page is a direct reflection of the local community. The Arizona Republic, in John McCain’s home state, highlighted the Republican’s concession speech with a photo of him with his wife. In Honolulu, where Obama was born, the newspaper shrunk its own logo into a 3-inch space and ran OBAMA! in huge, bold capital letters across the top of the page. The Miami Herald included an article about how the Hispanic vote in Florida was essential to Obama carrying that swing state. The big news was Obama’s win, but there was much more story to tell in each town.
Editorial commentary with each page provides additional insight. You learn that the Detroit Free Press reprinted its front page as a T-shirt and poster, that in Georgia, more than half its voters had cast their ballots before election day, and that the Washington Post sold out by 8 a.m. Nov. 5 and had to print an extra 900,000 copies to meet demand.
Whether taken as a keepsake to store away safely for posterity or as a quick study comparing and contrasting news presentation from west to east, this book is a wonderful compilation of pieces of history — and perspective — from across the country on that night.