March for Life Bias Starts Early

UPDATE: Check out this photo essay from USA Today. Nicely done. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/25/abortion-march-for-life-washington/1864051/

I spend a good chunk of a class period I do on media bias talking about the March for Life coverage and what it says about America’s media. More on that in a second, but I followed the media more closely than usual this year.

I was watching it because Benedictine College’s  epic 7 bus trip from Atchison, Kan., to Washington, D.C. got so much mainstream media coverage: USA Today … Louisville (KY) Courier-JournalRochester (NY) Democrate & ChronicleLivingston County (MI) Daily (This in addition to Catholic News Agency/EWTNZenitCardinal Newman SocietyLifeNews.com.)

I appreciated the secular coverage … but I also got to see how it changed.

This is what the USA Today story looks like now.

In case you can’t see that picture, here it is bigger. Yes, it is a story of a pro-life march illustrated by … pro-abortion marchers. (Don’t call them pro-choice: They want “Abortion on Demand & Without Apology.”)

Through the magic of caching here’s a picture of what the story originally looked like:

Here is that original picture close-up. (Ironically, this came from a Google images search and you can see in the background that the photo no longer exists on the page.)

The story about the pro-life protest originally had a picture of a pro-life protester. But not for long.

Now, of course this is nothing new. The annual March for Life is always covered as if it were every bit a march for abortion. Yet I have never seen a pro-abortion protester at the March for Life, and my college sophomore daughter who has gone a lot more than me (every year of her life, I think; including in utero, appropriately) has never seen one either.

My favorite example is this 2010 CNN story. To look at it you would think that this is flat-out a march to keep abortion legal, not a march to end it. Notice the picture, headline and lead sentence:

How could they do such a thing? Well, They probably feel like they covered themselves by making a second photo clickable (see the “2″ above?). Here is that photo:

That year, 2010, was a great one for March for Life bias. Here is a Newsweek headline by a reporter who has apparently never gone to the March for Life:

In class, I like to pair that with those two CNN pictures and ask: Which group do you think the reporter has spent time with?

But then  I pair it with some random pictures from the March, just for fun. I’ll leave you with those ….

UPDATE: Kudos to USA Today. Here’s a noon update of that March for Life story’s photo … and here are reporter Natalie DiBlasio’s tweets:

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Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., where he teaches in the Journalism and Mass Communications department and edits the college’s Catholic identity speech digest, The Gregorian.

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63 thoughts on “March for Life Bias Starts Early

  1. Ethan says:

    I think that it’s a picture, and it has little bearing on the actual story. We would be much better off as a nation if people bothered to read completely through an article before criticizing it.

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