Film Star versus Groundbreaking Politician.

by Meredith O’Brien


“My name is Geraldine Ferraro. I stand before you to proclaim tonight: America is the land where dreams can come true for all of us.”Geraldine Ferraro, at 1984 Democratic National Convention.


“Every time a woman runs [for office], women win.” – Ferraro to a reporter during the 2008 presidential campaign.


Two weeks ago, screen icon Elizabeth Taylor died. Her death was the third biggest news story of the week among American media organizations. (It generated a column in this space about Taylor’s experience as a working mom.)


A few days later in that same week, former Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, the first female vice presidential candidate for a major political party, also passed away. But Ferraro’s death wasn’t noted on front pages across America with the same verve like two-time Oscar winner Taylor’s had been.


For example, the three newspapers I receive at home in their old fashioned, dead tree versions – The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The MetroWest Daily News – treated the two women’s deaths differently. A big, glamorous photo of Taylor along with a story appeared on the top left-hand part of Times’ front page. The Globe ran a photo and a story on the lower part of page one. My local newspaper ran a photo with a teaser along the top of the page which directed readers to a page 2 story about Taylor.


Days later, Ferraro’s death wasn’t heralded as much as Taylor’s in the same three newspapers. The New York Times had the Ferraro story on the bottom of its front page along with a photo. (Taylor’s had been at the top.) The Boston Globe had a page one blurb mentioning her death with a tiny photo, and told readers to turn to page B9 – B freakin’ 9 -- for her obituary, and she died in Boston. My local paper didn’t even mention her death on page one but ran an Associated Press story about her passing on page 2.