If you have been reading this blog much in the past week (greeting to the thousands of readers who came here through tweets and emails linked to THAT POST by M.Z. Hemingway) then you know that there have been numerous protests — large and small — across the nation marking the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion. Some of you may, repeat may, have seen coverage of these events in your local newspapers. On the major broadcast networks? Not so much.
Meanwhile, down in Waco, Texas — home of Baylor University, one of my alma maters — it seems that there was a rather radical symbolic protest of these protests. Here is a bit of the tiny story that ran in the Waco Tribune-Herald:
Hundreds of crosses at a local anti-abortion memorial were reported as damaged in an apparent act of vandalism during the weekend.
Rusty Lee Thomas, member of Elijah Ministries and founder and director of Rachel’s Park Memorial, said the vandalism may have been related to the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. …
It appeared that someone used a large vehicle to mow down an estimated 400 to 500 of the 4,000 crosses at the memorial, Thomas said. He did not know when the vandalism occurred, but said a report was filed with Waco police about 11 a.m. Saturday. … It’s not the first time vandalism has occurred at the park. The park also experienced similar vandalism in June 2011 and February 2008.
This news report raises several journalistic questions, for me.
First of all, if someone attacked a Holocaust memorial on or within hours of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, might a few mainstream journalists concede a connection?
How about a racist attack on the memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., that took place on or just after Martin Luther King Day?
What about an attack on a 9/11 memorial, or some major U.S. government facility, that took place on the anniversary of 9/11?
If any of these events took place, I would argue that logical journalists would accept the likelihood of a connection and, thus, take that into account in their coverage of these highly symbolic events. Oh, and it wouldn’t matter if the gay-pride memorial (or Holocaust memorial, or MLK memorial, etc.) was in some out of the way place — such as Central Texas. In fact, that fact might even add to the symbolism of the event, making it more newsworthy.
Thus, here is my second question: Did this symbolic attack in Waco merit any national level coverage, or at least coverage in major regional media?
We already know the answer to that one — simply by looking at this Google News search. The answer is (a) “no” and/or (b) it is only news in conservative or niche media.
My final question is, “Why is this the case?”
I know, I know: It doesn’t sell newspapers. Are you sure about that? Would the previously mentioned hypothetical attacks on highly symbolic memorials produce news coverage that affected more people and, thus, sold more newspapers or produced higher television ratings?
Just asking. By the way, a conservative media report on this attack noted other poignant details in this story:
Entombed within the park are the remains of a tiny victim of abortion. The spreading display of 4,000 white crosses reinforced with steel rebar was extensively damaged, as was the picket fence enclosing the memorial park. A swath of damage — 12 ½ ft by 136 ft — cuts through the memorial site, with approximately 600 crosses, rebar, oil, two tires and parts of a vehicle’s underside littering the park. Thankfully, the main feature of the memorial park, The Tomb of the Unknown Baby, was undamaged.
It sounds like that truck may be rather easy to identify. Let’s hope the police break the case and, well, that a few reporters notice.