This is rather ironic.
When I got to my office this morning here on Capitol Hill, I picked up the Washington Post and started looking for its story on the annual March for Life, which usually brings somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000 people to the city to mark the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. There are times when the advance story makes the Metro front, but most of the time you look for something short inside the paper somewhere.
I’m still looking. Did I miss something?
However, my screen saver is Google News and, sure enough, there was a Post story in the national news section about the march — marked “1 hour ago.” I assume this means that I can stop looking in the newspaper that arrived on the front steps at my office.
Now, in the modern, 24/7 era of digital journalism, there are all kinds of stories, posts and commentaries produced in a major newsroom that never see analog ink. The tree pulp world, after all, is declining while the digital grows.
However, these kinds of editorial decisions are still interesting and, I am sure, some will say that they are revealing.
Think of this as the journalistic equivalent of a movie going “direct to DVD.” Here is a piece of that short online report:
Coming two days after the nation inaugurated a president who is a staunch supporter of abortion rights, the annual March for Life is sure to feel different than it did during the eight years when former President George W. Bush, an abortion opponent, was in the White House.
Bush traditionally sent a presidential message of support to the marchers when they gathered every year. He appointed right-leaning Supreme Court justices who could shift the court’s support for Roe vs. Wade, and his administration implemented several anti-abortion laws, including a prohibition on U.S. aid to international organizations that perform abortions or refer women to abortion clinics.
President Obama, an outspoken supporter of a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy, is expected to reverse that prohibition today or in the near future.
March for Life organizers invited the new president to speak at today’s rally, according to a letter posted on the group’s Web site. “America needs your strong leadership as President of all of the people to stop the intentional killing of an estimated 3,000 preborn boys and girls each day and the brutalizing of mind, heart and body of pregnant mothers,” the letter said.
Frankly, the language in that report is solid and rather neutral. It goes on to mention that the march will cause street closings and hassles in the area around the National Mall, which is still being cleaned up after the massive celebrations surround the inauguration. Hopefully, people can read those warnings on their iPhones and Blackberry devices as they drive to work.
Meanwhile, the Washington Times offered an A1 story by Jennifer Harper that forms a rather ironic counterpoint to the short, direct-to-online report at the competition. Here is a piece of that:
… Nellie Gray — who founded the March for Life 36 years ago — pines for some meaningful attention from the press. Her marchers were to hit the streets near the Capitol on Thursday, virtually retracing the steps of an estimated 1.8 million inaugural revelers whose every move was chronicled by a crush of media just two days earlier.
Perhaps journalists are just tired. The chances are good, however, that news organizations will not be in close attendance for the pro-life crowds. The event has not been much of a press draw over time, and this year would seem particularly bleak.
“I’m not complaining that the news people covered the inauguration so closely. It’s all right. We do have a press platform at our march, and I have seen cameras there in the past. But what we usually end up with is a story with a tiny little comment from one individual marcher,” Miss Gray said.
“What we’re more interested in is some full coverage of our life principles, and why we are out here in the middle of winter. Why do people get on buses and come here to the Mall, to talk to Congress? It would help if the press would see that as news,” she said.
I am sure that we will read about the march tomorrow in both papers. It’s hard to ignore that many people in the streets.
Of course, anyone who has worked in journalism knows that the real test of an editor’s interest in an event is in the advance story that is published.
Again, did I miss something in another tree-pulp Post edition? I hope GetReligion readers in the greater Washington, D.C., area can help me answer that question.
Photo: 2007 March for Life in Washington, D.C.