If you rely solely on the mainstream media for your news, you’re in big trouble.
Don’t get us wrong. In general, we think the press in this country is among the most professional, accurate and bias-free in the world, major recent cuts in resources notwithstanding. Most U.S. journalists work hard and strive to be objective.
But that doesn’t mean that they don’t regularly and spectacularly fail.
Take the coverage (or in most cases, lack thereof) of last month’s March for Life in Washington, D.C.
For 37 straight years, tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers have descended on our nation’s capital in the dead of winter to march in commemoration of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion (see story, Page 4).
This year was no exception. Organizers estimated that a record 400,000 people, mostly college-aged, braved 45 degree weather to march down Constitution Avenue in favor of life. According to eyewitness reports, counter-demonstrators were hardly to be seen.
Not only would you not know that from the mainstream press, in many cases you would have gotten a completely different picture.
An overview, from a search of their websites:
The New York Times, our nation’s paper of record, didn’t give it a word. Nor did the Chicago Tribune. Nor did the Miami Herald. Nor did the Boston Globe. Nor did the Los Angeles Times (but it did have a blog post titled, “Barack Obama celebrates birth of Roe v. Wade abortion decision,” about a presidential statement on the anniversary confirming his support for abortion rights).
The Washington Post was fairer, reporting in a 670-word story that “tens of thousands” of pro-lifers marched, but it focused mostly on the recently failed health care reform bill that provided for taxpayer-funded abortions.
Other media didn’t do better.
CNN.com’s story began, “Abortion rights supporters and opponents hit the streets ...” and never mentioned that, simply based on the preponderance of numbers, this was a pro-life event. To add insult to injury, the photo accompanying it was of pro-abortion-rights demonstrators.
Perhaps most egregious was a Newsweek blog item, posted five hours before the march began, which was titled: “Who’s missing at the Roe v. Wade anniversary demonstrations? Young women,” and went on to allege that the march route has become shorter because “the organizers are getting older,” in the words of a quoted expert. This despite the fact that most of the marchers were young adults, including many women.
It is a happy coincidence that February is Catholic Press Month, which we see as a celebration of a necessary alternative news source for Catholics.
Here you will read the stories that are important to you and your formation in the faith — and, as was just demonstrated, that you very well may not read anywhere else.
While committed to the highest standards of journalistic excellence, we embrace our “alternative” role, which is important both for our democracy and our faith.
And when the Catholic press fulfills its role with integrity, quality, fairness and faith, we aren’t just an alternative. We are irreplaceable.
Please do your part to support the Catholic press. Renew and subscribe.