Maybe it’s irrational exuberance, but the country seems to be overflowing with good will toward our new president. Here are some of the post-inauguration-day, too-many-to-count headlines (or parts of them) from newspapers all over the world, collected by the Newseum, the journalism museum in Washington, D.C.: “Hope over fear,” a phrase from President Obama’s inauguration address, was most frequent, appearing on at least 10 front pages (we stopped counting); “A new era” was a close second – and that doesn’t count variations like “A new course,” “A new day,” “A new way forward,” and “A new beginning.” “Change,” “responsibility,” and the word “ready” figured in quite a few (and one “Let’s Dance”). They can be seen on a Web page created by Ben Wikler (http://benwikler.com/news21all.html).
These headlines are revealing.
Newspapers, by their nature, mirror their communities. A community in trouble reaps headlines about that trouble – headlines that tell readers about war or other conflicts, financial or other ruin, accidents or shootings or murders.
For just one day – OK, a few days – the headlines across the globe were full of hope. We needed that, and will continue to need that hope in the many difficult days that are sure to be ahead.
The New York Times headline – which does not appear to be on the site – was the best by far; rather than merely borrowing a phrase from the address, it spent a lot of ink on a two-line banner across the front page announcing, in Cheltenham bold-italic 45-point type, “OBAMA TAKES OATH, AND THE NATION IN CRISIS EMBRACES THE MOMENT.”
What that headline did was put the news – which we all knew anyway, whether we shlepped to Washington or Times Square or huddled in front of a television set – in the context of our time. We are, indeed, a nation in crisis – as outgoing President George Bush knows and as his successor acknowledged. But even those among us who would rather a different man ascend to the White House, or a certain woman, did indeed “embrace the moment.” It was, of course, a historic moment, meaningful in so many ways – but perhaps its deepest meaning was that we all “embraced” it together. May we keep that sense of community and that hope.