Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bias at the "Democrat and Chronicle"?

There have been complaints about the coverage - or lack thereof - in local media of the protests at Planned Parenthood August 22. In particular, people have complained about the lack of coverage by our local daily newspaper, the Democrat and Chronicle.
When the newspaper was contacted, one person reported that he was told since the newspaper covered another protest at Planned Parenthood in July, there was no need to cover the more recent protest. 
Never mind that there have been a number of developments and revelations in the Planned Parenthood story since those July protests, or that the protests were organized by different groups and targeted different Planned Parenthood offices.
Never mind that the newspaper again and again covers repeated rallies/protests/marches focused on other issues.
This latest incident reminded me of the situation of the annual Good Friday Stations of the Cross for Life. The event has a consistent ethic of life focus, and so it addresses a number of life issues – economic justice, euthanasia, prisons, the death penalty, etc. But admittedly it does have a clear emphasis on abortion. It draws 150-200 participants every year.
When the newspaper has been contacted, spokespeople have given a number of reasons why the event was not cover THAT year. One of their most common claims was that they were not notified in time, but a number of march organizers and supporters pointed to numerous e-mails, notices, etc. well before the event.

The other main reason given is that there are a variety of marches on that day, and so coverage is rotated to be fair.

It is true that there other marches. There have been several large – comparable in size to the Life one – ecumenical marches in the City of Rochester, smaller ecumenical marches in a local suburb, several parish organized Stations, and an economic justice march organized by several social/economic justice inclined Catholic groups. I have no objection to their getting coverage, by the way; all are worthy efforts.

I decided to use the newspaper’s own online database to check frequency of coverage of the various Stations/marches on that day. I counted as coverage articles about an event, mention of an event in an article covering activities that day, or standalone photos.

If the newspaper’s claim is true, there should be an equitable distribution of coverage.

Between 2001 and 2015, the large city-based ecumenical marches (100 - 300 participants) got covered six times.

The smallest of the marches, the Catholic economic justice one, typically with 20-25 participants, got covered 4 times – consecutively no less (2002-05).

The suburban ecumenical march got covered twice, with 60 and 150 participants respectively.

The city Catholic parishes’ marches (no numbers given, but small size implied) got covered twice.

And the Life march, with, remember, 150-200 participants every year, got covered once – a single sentence in a broader article about one of the city ecumenical marches.

Rotating coverage? Fair coverage?
Unless I missed any articles/photos, the evidence counters such claims.

In fact, it suggests an anti-prolife bias.

Pax et bonum

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Stories about Occupy Rochester were featured almost daily in the local news, including the D&C.