The Tibetan Olympic Torch Protests


A friend mentioned to me the other day that when she thinks of protests, she thinks of the stereotypical political protest theater that involves puppets and hippies (seriously, why all the puppets?), but with the Olympic torch relay, the method of protest–attempting to snuff out the Olympic flame–is one that makes a statement and ultimately doesn’t hurt anyone (barring any rioting, of course). Now that the flame is in the United States, the tabloids show two very different views of yesterday’s events in San Francisco.

There are two big differences in the Post and the Daily News‘ coverage of the event. The most obvious one is that the Post takes advantage of its color printing to feature a page of photos of the procession on page 4. We get one of the flame being carried by an unidentified wheelchair athlete who is flanked by cops carrying batons, the obligatory arrest shot of a protester and a crowd of folks trying to block a bus with Tibetan flags waving in the background.

The headline for the Post is tongue-in-cheek: “RUN TURNS TO PEKING ‘DUCK!'” and the stories about the relay and some of its political fallout are under a “5-RING CIRCUS” strip. The paper includes some of the international news regarding the Olympics in its coverage, including the announcement that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will not appear at the games’ opening ceremony and President Bush’s urging of China to at least talk to the Dalai Lama about the human rights issues in Tibet.

While the Post went with the “global ramifications” angle, the News chose the “all politics is local” tack, highlighting the story of Majora Carter from the South Bronx. Carter was running with the Olympic torch yesterday when she pulled a Tibetan flag from her sleeve in a show of solidarity with the Tibetan people. Carter then said she was pushed back into the crowd by cops after Chinese paramilitary officials spotted her waving the flag.

Both of the papers covered the relay with great results, but in a perfect tabloid world, Carter’s story would be accompanied by full-color photos.