Thursday, January 15, 2015

Today's Headlines: The fine print

Daily newspapers have come full circle since the 19th century. As in those days, modern Mexican front pages are filled with mini-items, often only a line or two long. Today’s papers don’t look the same, of course, as their text-heavy ancestors. White space and color photos open things up, and the short blurbs and teasers share space with bold mega-point headlines. But in today’s Milenio and La Jornada, for example, there are a dozen or so front-page items each, with only two (La Jornada) or three (Milenio) using headline type bigger that blurb size. Also, other than a short front-page editorial by Milenio editor Carlos Marín, provocatively titled “The perverse ‘search’ for the 42,’” there’s no body text on the cover of either tabloid  Even the main headlines tease stories inside.
    Milenio always uses a blaring three-deck, four-column (out of five) head for its top story, no matter how trivial the topic. Today it’s “Parents want to review army barracks beyond Iguala," which sounds like yesterday’s news. (“Parents” in Mexican news headlines these days usually refers to those of the disappeared normalista students, who in turn are referred to as "the 43" or "42"). A helpful kicker above the main head notes that “Around 400 military installations exist in the country,” which helps explain the adjective “perverse” in Carlos Marin’s headline.
    The second head is “Debts to Oaxaca doctors paid,” which should put an end to work stoppages by public sector physicians in that state who hadn’t been receiving their salaries and bonuses owing to budget shortfalls. Then comes, at the lower left, this: "PAN leaders only think about themselves,” with a kicker indicating the quote’s author — Margarita Zavala. The wife of former President Felipe Calderón, Zavala is seeking the presidency of the conservative, pro-Church party, after the leadership rejected her bid to run for a seat in the Chamber of Deputies.
    The rest are teasers. Four are related to the main story: “Without sustenance” is another official denial that the military had anything to do with the Iguala calamity, this time from Interior (Gobernación) Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong. “DF, Oaxaca and Guerrero” refers to more open house at army installations in those three entities, in this case to allow "forensic archeologists" to look for the long-missing bodies of two former guerrillas. “There’s Progress: Peña,” comes from a speech by the president in which he noted the significant reduction of violence in the border city of Juárez, only recently one of the most terrifying towns in the world. “Commissioner” is about the one-year anniversary of Alfredo Castillo’s appointment as security commissioner to Michoacán, which essentially established federal control in that state. Castillo says crime has diminished since he rode into town. Others disagree.
    The remaining Mileno teasers, reefers and fotonotas deal with Al Qaeda’s involvement in the Paris terror attack, the alliance between Milenio and the small newspaper El Mundo, the owner of the Chivas soccer club from Guadalajara denying that the team will be sold, the escalating amount of funds being handed out to the political parties for their campaigns (up 47% since 2009), and a list of today’s columnists.

La Jornada leads with “CNDH will be invited to tour the Iguala barracks,” meaning that trained investigators of the National Human Rights Commission will accompany the parents of the 42 as they search for clues about their sons, at least in that one site. Excelsior also leads with a similar headline.
    Yes, a lot of people see the effort to find the 42 alive as “perverse,” in Carlos Marin’s word. But the developments in the last two days has put the army in the middle of the muddle of news about human rights abuses. That's what the parents and their supporters want, and what the federal government has been trying to avoid.
    Not helping matters from the feds’ point of view are headlines such as El Universal's leader today: “State of Mexico investigating 20 for torture in Tlatlaya.” Tlatlaya is the town where soldiers allegedly slaughtered 22 detained suspects. Torture is now part of the evolving picture. EL U also reports that three survivors of the massacre told investigators from the National Human Rights Commission that they were threatened and intimidated before they gave testimony.
    We like to be thorough here at Today's Headlines, but not sadistic. So we'll spare you the rundowns of the other papers' reefers and teasers until future dates. They each go about it differently, but the goal is the same all round — to encourage newsstand browsers to buy the paper. 

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