You are correct that profuse praise is usually an issue of avak lashon hara. The reason is that it is likely to provoke someone hears it to counter the excessive effusiveness by putting down the subject. Since it leads others to commit the aveira of lashon hara, it is forbidden.
Regarding a newspaper there may be extenuating circumstances. Firstly, the definition of "excessive" praise would be relative to the subject. If written about a Gadol, one could say much more before running into problems. Secondly, unlike a verbal conversation where there are inevitably others participating who could respond derisively, a printed story could be read in private leaving no one to express one's negative reaction to. Since no lashon hara was provoked, no avak was committed.
In conclusion, it is certainly an issue to be taken into consideration, but it is difficult to make any blanket pronouncement on the subject.