We’ve had more than a few readers point out this article in the Washington Post about a changing of the guard at Emily’s List. And that’s because it reads like a press release from the organization.
Now, there’s certainly no need for a story such as this — about the founder of an organization stepping aside and being replaced — to be hard-hitting. But this reads more like a love letter. Actually, it kind of reminds me of those Christmas letters that people send out with updates on what their children did that year. Such a style is perfectly appropriate for moms, but is it appropriate for the Post? Not so much.
Anyway, there were a few other problems with it as well. Here’s the lede:
The founder of the political advocacy organization Emily’s List, the fundraising powerhouse that has propelled hundreds of progressive women candidates into office, is stepping aside as its president and will be replaced by a veteran Senate staffer and Democratic operative, officials said Wednesday.
So what does Emily’s List advocate for? This lede — and the next eight paragraphs — make it seem as if the purpose of the organization is to get liberal women into office. What’s missing from this description? A pretty big word. I’ll let the folks at Emily’s List explain what their purpose is:
EMILY’s List members are dedicated to building a progressive America by electing pro-choice Democratic women to office.
Yes, the missing word is “abortion.” Emily’s List is very good at getting pro-choice women elected to office. That is what they do. I can’t even begin to understand why this is downplayed by the Post. Late in the piece, we get a one-word mention of the group’s actual focus on abortion rights. This is just bizarre.
And I guess a story that doesn’t even get the basics right probably can’t be expected to have even a modicum of balance, but this story is simply a collection of quotes of people from within the organization praising each other in press-release fashion. To wit:
Ellen Malcolm will continue to be involved as chairwoman of the board of Emily’s List but will hand over day-to-day management of the vast network of political donors and activists and its political operations to the new president, Stephanie Schriock.
“We’ve set the stage for making history,” said Malcolm, 62, describing how in its 25 years Emily’s List helped more than 100 female candidates win election to federal and state offices. “We’ve had astonishing victories. The U.S. House is a very different place today than it was when we began. The world has changed.”
The appointment of Schriock, 36, signals a generational change for Emily’s List, which was founded by someone who emerged from the women’s movement fighting for equal representation for women in politics. The organization now will be led by a woman who grew up believing every door was open to her.
“People like Ellen Malcolm have fought a battle so that I can be successful,” Schriock said. “But I realized, you know what? It’s my turn.”
Now, I have no doubt that Ellen Malcolm hearts Emily’s List and Stephanie Schriock hearts Emily’s List and I know that the two women are BFF, but we’re talking about a group whose focus is abortion rights. This is a contentious topic. Find some people on the other sides of the issue and see what they think about this changing of the guard. Do they think Schriock is a formidable opponent? How do other people within the abortion rights movement think this change will affect the group’s effectiveness?
I guess I have a hard time imagining that a story about a similar change at the pro-life equivalent (the Susan B. Anthony List) would fail to mention abortion, would be written in such a glowing fashion and would fail to get any outside perspective.