Monday, January 25, 2010

Poor media coverage is pro-life leaders' own fault

This story happens every year. The mainstream media doesn’t cover the March for Life enough. And when it does, its coverage is incompetent or biased.

These complaints happen every year too. Why is that?

It’s not the journalists’ job to report on every event in Washington. They have a world to cover.

However, it is the job of pro-life leaders to secure as much accurate and favorable media coverage as possible. Media companies need to be convinced the March for Life is important.

Decades into the March for Life, they aren't convinced yet.

Are pro-life groups just dispatching a single press release to busy newsrooms and expecting reporters to notice? Sometimes it seems that way.

If CNN anchor Rick Sanchez doesn’t know who is sponsoring our largest event of the year, it's our own fault for not using the system right. Let’s stop coasting on lazy and self-excusing accusations of media bias.

Pro-lifers donate lots of money to support our movement's leaders. If we're still complaining about media coverage every year, these leaders aren’t succeeding at their jobs.

We need an audit to find out what we’re doing wrong.

EWTN is not enough. What are leaders in the pro-life movement doing to build contacts, working relationships and even friendships with mainstream reporters?

And what are the rank-and-file pro-lifers doing to make their leaders lead?


UPDATE: Sum of Change was doing some reporting and passes on a
a flyer to March bus captains that reads:
it is good to suggest to your Marchers that they
refrain from giving names and addresses to unknown persons,
and refrain from answering personal questions from people who
are, for instance, “with the press” or making a “survey.”

That blog also says:
So we are covering their event. However, after seeing the interviews, I can tell why they instruct marchers not to talk with the press: these folks have no idea what they are talking about. A literal quote, "We don't have to have facts or figures."

While it would be unfair to expect the average Marcher to be a good spokesman, wouldn't a little media preparation on the long bus ride be a helpful pasttime?

Twitter: @kevinjjones


Michael Pakaluk said...

They might begin by holding the March over the weekend.

The rationale of being in town on a workday to lobby one's representatives made sense only when it was the legislative branch that needed to be influenced, for a Human Life Amendment. Now, the most influence would come from the largest crowds and the best coverage, which means a weekend event.

Michael Pakaluk said...

Oh, yeah -- and why don't we have accurate numbers for the March?

How much trouble would it be to put a guy with a videorecorder at the corner where the March turns to the Supreme Court, and then pay some college students for a couple of days' work to watch the blasted film and count each person? We'd have a perfectly precise count. So all these people make huge sacrifices to get to the March, and the organizers don't do this simple thing?

Julie D. said...

You can't blame it on being a weekday event. The Dallas March for Life was on a Saturday. It wasn't covered by a single television station in the area. Not one. The newspaper did run a story pointing out that we didn't meet the bishop's goal of 10,000 people.

I agree. Being media savvy isn't that difficult these days. Great post.

Anonymous said...

We need to totally rethink the March 4 Life. It is a big waste of time and money to have the same tired speakers and organizers do the same thing every blasted year; that is get up there and say things like "I'm 'so and so' and I'm pro-life..." [big cheer if this guy is from your state]. We need to make the March an experience of prayer and penance...not a big party for pro-lifers to get together at and compare banners. After all we aren't gonna get anything done unless some major prayer and fasting are brought into this movement...after all, lest we take a page out of Mr. Obama's book, speeches are not enough

Steve Kellmeyer said...

I absolutely disagree with this post. As a book publisher for nearly a decade, I have no problem with the thesis that advertising is a huge job and needs to be done well.

But, on the other hand, this is the single largest event that happens in DC.


There's simply nothing else like it. Nobody gets turnout like the March for Life, and it's not like the advertising has been a crock for 30 years. It happens every year, like clockwork.

The only way the news media could miss this story is if they refused to look at it.

Consider the Tea Parties - essentially zero coverage from the MSM, yet Hannity, Beck and Limbaugh were shouting it from the rooftops, Drudge had it on every day, and the MSM had... nothing.

Tea Party, Right to Life March... you name it, if it doesn't fit the MSM mold for news, it ain't. Doesn't matter what you do. They ain't buyin' what we sell.

That's why they're going out of business.

helgothjb said...

There is much penance involved. The Arch- diocese of Indianapolis send 7 - 14 buses every year, filled with highschool kids. They leave the night before, drive through the night, arrive in time to drop their things at CUA and then sight see, return for the Mass, a pizza and salad dinner follows. The get to the gym at CUA in time to catch maybe 6 hours of sleep on the floor, then get up to eat, head to the youth rally and then the March, load the buses around 5 or 6 and drive all through the night to get back in time to attend school the next day. It is very sacraficial!

G said...

Ditto for the kids from St Benedict HS in Memphis, TN...only they & their weary sponsors have alot farther to go on the buses! PLEASE don't even think that their annual trek to DC for the last 20 yrs has been a "party". Geez. Its penance indeed to be a voice for the voiceless every yr.

Kevin Jones said...

Steve Kellmeyer writes: "The only way the news media could miss this story is if they refused to look at it."

Other political groups have proven quite capable of making the media cover stories they didn't want to. This is an actionable problem. What have leaders' past actions been to address this, and what can they (and we) do to force the issue?

Saying "Doesn't matter what we do" avoids answering the first part of that question.

If a main purpose of the March is to raise awareness, why is Rick Sanchez unaware?

We need to be very careful we don't let our MSM bashing become a crutch and an excuse for failure.

At minimum, we should flood the negligent media outlets with polite and specific complaints, asking what we can do on our side to fix the non-coverage in the future.

Find the relevant contacts and keep them informed and interested.

If March leaders aren't striving to meet with editors and TV producers to address our PR failures, we need better leaders.

(Thanks for commenting to Steve Kellmeyer and you all!)

eneubauer said...

I will comment in a bit of ignorance since I do not know what the organizers of the March for Life actually did.

What we can learn from the continued neglect from the MSM.

1.) Develop a campaign style war room filled with the best / most competent Christian bloggers to cover the event from beginning to end.
2.) Utilize podcasting and other new media to flood the internet with information about the event. Like NUMBERS of participants, speakers list, and recordings of speeches etc.
3.) Utilize camera / video phones and texting to flood Fox, CNN etc with information. They all have FB and Twitter accounts and many outlets allow folks to upload video directly to their internet site.
4.) Expand the March. If you have 300,000 folks there for one day - organize @least 100,000 to stay and "sit in" at the Supreme Court or Congress or the WH. That would call attention. With 100,000 you could virtually shut the city down (in a peaceful and organized way).

Let's be honest...with the amount of money that is being spend through the Pro-Life movement you could buy media, buy single page ads in the major newspapers, and purchase billboard space to announce your message. This is not rocket science. Politicians get elected by doing this...why can't we do the same thing. It can't be for a lack of money...its out there!!!

Kevin J Jones said...


One commenter I follow named "Romulus" has proposed something like your #4:

"I can promise you that so long as marchers stay within the lines and don't cause inconvenience for anyone, their visibility and impact will be zero.

"What the pro-life movement needs is a couple hundred thousand people willing to be arrested for being a non-violent pain-in-the-ass."

G said...

Is there any way we can utilize what "eneubauer" said? That makes more sense than anything else I've read...

Rusty5329 said...

This post makes incredibly important points for conservatives and liberals alike (liberal here from Sum of Change). Definitely just shooting ourselves in the foot by pretending that poor media coverage is anyone's fault but our own.

Great analysis! I get so fed up with folks always blaming the media for bad coverage, we liberals are just as bad as conservatives about it.

Mike said...

Oh Bah-loney! There were numerous members of the house and senate giving speeches. are we expected to believe those busy busy journalist covering news stories all over the world didn't bother to check the schedules of our nation's legislators? In addition, 100% of the pro-death senators and congressmen were out of the office that day. Seems they managed to know the march was happening.

The Capitol police were out in force. I guess the journalists forgot to monitor what the police were doing.

So, if our journalists are too busy writing "real' news stories to knwo what the police and the government are doing, what exactly do they use to find the stories they do report?

eneubauer said...

Mike said, "Oh Bah-loney!"

I say...we can still do more. We can make it so that can't ignore us.