Foot-long subs vs. March For Life

Foot-long subs vs. March For Life January 28, 2013

The Associated Press has a Twitter feed with nearly 1.6 million followers. Those followers received two tweets about a gun control rally and march in Washington, D.C. this weekend.

“Gun control march in Washington to feature Newtown residents, pastors, parents and survivors of gun violence,” read one.

“PHOTOS: Thousands march for gun control on National Mall in Washington,” read another.

Considering the relatively small size of the march (Some said “nearly 1,000.” Others, as noted above, said “thousands.”), it makes one wonder how many links to stories and photo collections were sent out for the massive 40th anniversary March for Life.

The answer, of course, would be zero. Really, the AP Twitter feed never found it worthwhile, in its steady stream of tweets, to even mention the March for Life, much less link to a photo gallery of it.

My family and I participated in the March For Life and, smack dab in the middle of it, we didn’t really have much of a perspective of its size. It was extremely cold — just brutal conditions — so I kept my head down and my hands in my pocket. I knew that the number of Lutherans for Life, which was our contingent, was significantly larger than any previous year. If you watch the video above, which comes not from a mainstream media source but from Roman Catholic broadcast network EWTN, you can get something of a feel for how many people move past one bend in the march over the course of 8 minutes.

Our Lutherans started marching at 1:20 PM and we didn’t make it past the Supreme Court until 3:30 or so. The march goes on at that pace for quite some time.

And yet while only giving the briefest coverage to this massive march — or neglecting to give any at all! — many networks gave tremendous coverage to that gun control rally. Both rallies were described by some outlets as featuring the exact same number of attendees — “thousands” — even though the pro-life rally was exponentially larger (I don’t quite know what it means, but perhaps it’s worth considering that people who seek protection for unborn children are called “anti-abortion” while people who seek to limit 2nd Amendment protections are called “supporters of gun control” or “advocates of gun control.”)

Some readers complained about the lack of coverage on CNN. I don’t know if anyone has done a comprehensive analysis, but when I got home from the march, I watched for coverage of the commemoration of the 55 million unborn children killed via abortion in the last 40 years but only saw some serious attention paid to a dolphin that had gotten trapped in waters in Brooklyn that day and had died. If you wrote it as fiction people would say it was too over-the-top.

Here on CNN’s Political Ticker, in the midst of several posts about gun control advocates, we see this post, featuring a live report from their gun control march. By contrast, the report on the pro-life march — I’m sorry, the march by “opponents of abortion” — featured no live report, just a written story. By the way, the picture accompanying the big AP report on the march was of … counter-protesters. I couldn’t find any photos of the pro-life march at Politico, but here’s a nice photo gallery of the gun control rally. ABC didn’t find time to mention the rally on its broadcast Friday night, but Diane Sawyer did see fit to do a story on how sometimes Subway’s foot-long subs are only 11-inches long.

I could go on. (And if I did go on, I would have many more examples of wretched coverage but also some examples of decent coverage.)

Only 17 years after Roe v. Wade was decided, the Los Angeles Times published a stunning series by David Shaw on the extreme bias the mainstream media showed against those who think these killings are wrong. I heartily encourage you to review the series or the summarized findings. I’ll share two of those findings now:

Events and issues favorable to abortion opponents are sometimes ignored or given minimal attention by the media.

When Roman Catholic bishops individually spoke out on abortion or, collectively, hired a public relations firm to aid them in the battle against abortion, some in the media grumbled about the church’s intrusion into the political arena. Similar media lamentations were forthcoming when bishops criticized (and raised the specter of ex-communication for) public officials who refuse to oppose abortion. But no such criticism was levied at the bishops in earlier years, when they endorsed a nuclear freeze or opposed Reagan Administration economic policies.

Some 23 years after that Times analysis was published, the media still struggle with many of the same problems they were lambasted for then.

We’ll look at what was for me a deeply disappointing example of media bias in coverage of this topic — somewhat related to the second point above — later today.

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32 responses to “Foot-long subs vs. March For Life”

  1. As a Danbury native and friend to two of those murdered at Sandy Hook, I find this loathsome piece beneath contempt.

    So your march didn’t rate a side-bar. Big deal. Anywhere, at any time of day, there is a anti-abortion advocate protesting abortion. That several thousand of them gathered in one place is NOT news, especially when one considers the legality of abortion is not presently up for judicial review. Yes, there is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade to consider, and while you maintain there is some bias precluding the discussion of that fact, my RSS feeds are rife with articles discussing precisely that.

    The issue of gun control, however, is up for legislation, in real time. Ergo, it is more relevant to the national discourse. Ergo, it makes the news.

    You claim bias here? What I see is a petulant child crying about attention-seeking behavior gone unrewarded. Oh, if only those pesky families of murder victims had just stayed home! Why should they get all the attention while you were outside protesting the same thing you’ve been protesting for forty years with no avail? It just isn’t fair! BIAS!

    • Alastor,

      She wasn’t complaining (I don’t believe) about the coverage for the gun control march, which had a few thousand participants, but about the lack of coverage of the right to life march, which had nearly 500 thousand participants. While there is current, incredibly misguided and misinformed, legislation being proposed around the country on gun control, it is obvious that many more people (media constituents) care about the abortion issue, yet it is ignored.

      You seem to be upset that she doesn’t care about those murdered in Sandy Hook, which I doubt is true, but you don’t seem to care about the 3,300 murdered in abortion every day in America.

      • Yes David you are exactly right.
        And I believe that there should be a mention of the March to let the world know how important an issue it is. Every person no matter how small should be important to everyone. If we were about to be born in this day and age we might not be here because there is a growing lack of concern. We all need to be awakened to the fact that everyone’s life is important. There are extreme cases but most abortions are a choice.

    • Alastor,
      You can take it down a notch. This is not a post about the merits of gun control laws or even about the march for those laws. This is a post about how the media shows bias in how it covers marches it prefers to those it doesn’t.
      But thanks for your comments and feel free to add more (though I would encourage you to avoid uncivilized discourse).

    • I am deeply sorry for the pain of your friends. It seems, however, your own pain is blocking your ability to reason. Perhaps it would have been best to refrain from saying anything. The author was not giving an opinion on the gun control rally or the merits of the discussion of gun control. Rather, she was pointing out that 650,000 people shutting down a good part of the NW district of Washington DC was not newsworthy precisely because it had to do with abortion. Some intellectual honesty is in order here. No pro-life advocate would be apathetic to the pain of people whose children lost their lives in Sandy Hook. It is important to look past our own pain, though. There is violence everywhere in this country and it is not just at the end of the barrel of a gun. 3300 children are murdered every single day in this country in the same way that a person chooses to shoot someone; might makes right. A mother either chooses or is coerced into murdering her child. ‘I am more powerful so I can choose to kill’. It is obvious media bias, since the media does not recoginize the murder of 55 million babies and counting as anything more than a choice. I understand that this is a difficult time right now for you. I was a 9-11 relief worker and have seen this kind of pain before and I am deeply sympathetic to it. I am, however, not okay with folks taking their anger out on the wrong people. Whether this country wants to face the reality or not, abortion is just as terrible as the other violent murders that occur in this country each day. As a priest from Haiti said at our parish on the anniversary of 9-11 a couple of years ago, “Somewhere in the world is a 9-11 for a family who has lost a loved one to violence.” We are blessed an insolated in this country. We forget that billions of people suffer at the hands of violence, poverty, and injustice throughout the world each day. It makes your pain no less. It does not,however, give you a right to aim it at others in an unjust manner. May God bless you and bring healing to you and your friends.

    • I’m sorry, but I am just gonna say it straight out: you are being dishonest. Football games happen every week and yet they get reported on. People eat subway sandwiches every day, but they got a special segment. When at least 500,000 people show up for something that the nation is divided on, it should be reported. Stop the feigned hurt and righteous indignation. This is news worthy and you know it. Maybe since you are so upset about the tragedy in your area, you should be equally upset by the tens of millions of children that have been killed. For the life of me, I can’t understand why you can’t mourn both. Both sets of children are victims and you shouldn’t be picking one set of them over another, especially since there is targeting of racial groups and children with disabilities in abortion. A tragedy is a tragedy and BOTH need to be covered, regardless of the circumstances.

      • Jason, there is plenty of dishonesty here, of which I am not a part.

        The author makes her position on the Sandy Hook protest abundantly clear in this paragraph:

        “And yet while only giving the briefest coverage to this massive march — or neglecting to give any at all! — many networks gave tremendous coverage to that gun control rally. Both rallies were described by some outlets as featuring the exact same number of attendees — “thousands” — even though the pro-life rally was exponentially larger (I don’t quite know what it means, but perhaps it’s worth considering that people who seek protection for unborn children are called “anti-abortion” while people who seek to limit 2nd Amendment protections are called “supporters of gun control” or “advocates of gun control.”)”

        The March for Life crowd wanted to “protect unborn children” (positive premise), and are punished for it. The Sandy Hook crowd wants to “limit 2nd Amendment protections” (negative premise), and is rewarded with all manner of media coverage. Mollie says this isn’t about the merits of gun control, but her editorializing on the matter is abundantly clear for all to see.

        Again, I’ll reiterate: Two people I knew personally were riddled with bullets trying to save six-year-old kids from a man who had no business owning a weapon. This is not feigned hurt, and neither is the outrage I feel that their deaths have been callously minimized by some blogger with a martyrdom complex who quite clearly feels her own cause morally superior and deserving of the kudos.

        Should the March for Life have made the news? Maybe. Is it BIG news? No.

        And that’s the point. The news isn’t biased towards irreligion or against religion, it is biased towards profit. If it bleeds it leads. The suggestion that this march wasn’t covered because some ideological axe-grinding is absurd. Abortion hits the news every day. In this case, the news went with the story that sells.

        This isn’t a justification. It is an explanation, and an explanation that makes a lot more sense than “the news hates believers”, especially when you consider the horrid press atheists get.

        • Firstly, condolences to you for the losses you have suffered. No amount of words can take that pain away, but I wish to at least let you know that you are heard.

          When those who wish for abortion to end participate in the March for Life, they are protesting one of the great genocides of human civilization. It is newsworthy it is still a matter that sharply divides Americans. Personally, I think that *both* rallies (for gun control and for human life in the womb) are both newsworthy, whether or not we agree or disagree with the positions held therein- certainly more newsworthy than a sandwich from Subway.

        • Obviously, “the news” is not biased. People who report/”make news” are. Who here said “the news hates believers”? You. Who has minimized anyone’s death? No one. Someone has minimized a small march in D.C., that’s all. And, by the way, what weapon did that man own? (None.) What weapon could he have legally owned? (None.)

        • The news isn’t biased towards irreligion or against religion, it is biased towards profit.”

          The news (for the most part) *is* biased toward profit. But it is also biased against religion. And against the pro-life cause.

          I worked in a major newsroom. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Almost no one who worked in my newsroom was religious or pro-life. It’s inevitably going to affect their coverage – and it does.

      • Sorry, but the Washington Post reported on this march and they state that the parade permit was for 50,000 participants and organizers said there were at least several times that amount, but we have no way of knowing. Not sure where folks are getting 650,000 or 500,000.

    • “That several thousand of them gathered in one place is NOT news…”

      If 500,000 people show up for a political rally in Washington, D.C. (or, indeed, anywhere) in freezing weather, I think that’s news. Let that sink in: 500,000. It literally covered most of the Mall. And that’s not even considering the major political and religious figures who showed up to speak and march.

      I don’t begrudge coverage to the gun control march. Really, I don’t. But I hope you can forgive us for being irritated that, once again, pro-life protests manage to be almost entirely ignored by the major media outlets.

  2. If the issue of gun control is up for legislation in Connecticut, that truly would be news. I understand the state has the strictest legislation in the country. I think states should just pass legislation on both topics without regard to federal interference. I’m not sure that I understand why the editorial boards of the press don’t feel free to campaign for it.

  3. Newspapers are in the business of selling newspapers. I spent 16 years in that business (in 4 parts of the country) and, trust me, profitable newspapers don’t care about anything besides selling newspapers. If a story isn’t going to interest people enough to sell newspapers, it probably won’t get printed. Both liberals and conservatives complain when THEIR cause is ignored, but that’s the way it goes. I saw very little mention of this Right To Life March is ANY newspaper, whether liberal or conservative. It just doesn’t sell newspapers.

    • Newspapers may be in the business of selling newspapers, sort of — but they have been collapsing for years, and are now owned by a few conglomerates who can afford to turn no profit from their news-wings. Easy to prove: I could come up with a sports section in one month that would outdo, by far, the sports section in any regional newspaper. All I’d need were five or six writers who could watch pro and college games on television or the net and report on them — that’s all, and then one or two people for the local high school boys’ teams. Yet you open the typical sports section, and a good third of it is devoted to things the typical sports fan doesn’t give a damn about. No, the controllers don’t care if the papers lose money.

  4. That’s one reason why I cancelled Comcast and I encourage others to do the same. Spend the $1,000 a year on people who support your values, not on those who ignore them.

  5. I’m currently employed in the business office of one of the larger news services, and we supply news to both print and online outlets. The simple fact is that EVERYONE clicked on the Subway story, but very, very few are interested enough to click and read about the RightToLife march. Advertisers pay for “clicks”, the same way they pay for quantity of newspapers sold. Successful news services know what people WANT to read about and what’s considered a “ho-hum story”. That’s why they’re successful. Believe me, EVERYONE cares if they make or lose money! If Tony thinks he knows so much about the news business and how to run a successful newspaper, he should certainly prove it to us.

    • Weird. If only this could explain why everyone gives such tremendous coverage to pro-choice rallies and gun control rallies. Are we expected to believe that among all types of people, pro-lifers are uniquely unclickable? So gun control rallies are clickable and pro-choice rallies are clickable but, golly, pro-life ones aren’t?

      Color me ever-so-slightly unconvinced.

    • All I know is that I didn’t click on any stories about it because I didn’t see any to click on… I did see a story about the gun control rally and didn’t click on it. The same goes for the Subway story.

  6. After I became aware of how the general media spike the March for Life year after year, it occurred to me how much of the news was either hyped or ignored by them. So that is WHY I have cancelled my newspaper subscription and don’t watch news on TV much either. I can get exactly the same thing from the AP feeds on Yahoo, which is the same as my local paper. Then I can get other viewpoints by going to reliable non-MSM outlets.

    • Geraldine, it’s ignored because nobody cares about it!! OK, maybe a very, very small minority cares – but not enough to matter.

      • I find it hard to believe that “nobody” cares about it when, at the same time, 500,000 people show up for it.

  7. Sorry, but while I am sympathetic to the March For Life, it has been an annual event for 40 years. Large protest rallies happen on an almost weekly basis in Washington, and unless there’s anything particularly newsworthy about them, I don’t see why they should automatically be covered. The Sandy Hook massacre is still the subject of an ongoing national debate, and if I were a news editor, I think I’d regard it as more worthy of coverage, whatever my own personal beliefs about abortion.

    • I think I’d find this argument much, much, much more persuasive if the number of people attending the annual March for Life were more like the size of the crowd that we’re being told is focused on a “newsworthy” “ongoing national debate” of gun control.
      If that’s such a hot button topic and even right now at this moment only 1,000 or so show up, what does it mean that we have a crowd exponentially larger showing up year after year after year after year after year?

    • I would think the fact that it was the largest ever, at over half a million (over twice the size of the ’63 civil rights march, and as large as the largest Vietnam War marches on DC) – and drew a number of prominent political figures (Rand Paul, etc.) – would make it newsworthy in *some *way.

      Yes, it’s an annual march. Yes there are marches or protests almost every week in DC. But none of them will be anything like as big as this one was.

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