Rochester Media Bias in March for Life
Rochester Area Right To Life
March for Life
Reporting Shows Media Bias in Rochester, NY
“The Note,” an ABC news bulletin, made the following perceptive comment:
Like every other institution, the Washington and political press corps operate with a good number of biases and predilections.
They include, but are not limited to, a near-universal shared sense that liberal political positions on social issues like gun control, homosexuality, abortion, and religion are the default, while more conservative positions are "conservative positions."
Indeed, on January 21, 2004, ABC did not mention the March for Life in Washington, DC, attended by over 100,000 people. Instead, they featured (1) a story alleging that the Bush ban on abortion support in foreign countries is harming women in Africa and Asia and (2) an interview with then-presidential-candidate Wesley Clark in which he explained that he was in favor of allowing abortion “until the moment of birth.”
Pro-lifers have always known that the playing field isn’t level, but readers of the Democrat & Chronicle in the Rochester, NY, area recently got a firsthand look at media bias in action.
An estimated 100,000-plus people participated in the March for Life in Washington, with participation by over a hundred Rochesterians. The Buffalo newspaper featured a photo of a pro-life group at the March, with a long article about the people who went from Buffalo, why they went, and all sorts of details that a reader might want to know. It was not a pro-life article, just a news article on a national event.
What were Rochester newspaper readers offered?
In an inconspicuous location inside the local section, the D&C headlined a local “rally” by 10 abortion-on-demand supporters holding up signs during morning rush hour advocating the right to unrestricted abortion to publicize an upcoming April event.
On the other side, there were 132-plus Rochester people who went on buses, planes, and cars to Washington out of concern for the right of an unborn child to live, plus an undocumented number of pro-life people who did not go to Washington but attended local events.
The D&C chose to do “balanced reporting.”
The abortion-rights point of view got 35 lines in the D&C article. The one concerned with child-life got 30 lines.
In the article, the March was portrayed as a confrontation between the two sides. It is worth noting that local residents who went on the March commented that they did not see the abortion-rights protesters. Not much of a confrontation.
So when that April event comes up, suppose 10 pro-life volunteers with “Love them both” signs stood on South Clinton Avenur during the morning rush hour. Does that mean that the pro-life side would get half of the lines in any news story written about abortion that day? And would the D&C call those 10 people a “rally”?
Or would it turn out that we only see “balanced reporting” when there is a newsworthy pro-life story to report?
If you want to read about the March for Life next year, perhaps you might try a subscription to the Buffalo newspaper.
2/28/2004 RARTL A. LeBlanc
News Update 3/8/2004: The D&C has now assigned a reporter to be the Rochester contact for pro-life news. Many local pro-life groups will be watching to see if this results in a fairer treatment of pro-life issues.
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