Mainstream media has one foundational truth: the objective of journalism is not to be objective. Bias is an inherent part of today’s news organizations that, unapologetically, reveal their agenda with articles of advocacy and misrepresentation.
This is not just a characteristic of U.S. news operations, but a destructive flaw affecting news media worldwide. For instance, what ties the New York Times and the Irish Times together? When it comes to abortion, it’s their aversion to the truth that makes them “journalistic” twins. Both desperately convey abortion as merely a religious issue, led solely (according to their narrative) by Catholic bishops. Each news outfit refuses to show the true face of the Prolife movement: cross-generational, cross-cultural, cross-denominational, and filled with lots of informed and passionate women and young people.
One would never know this by picking up Ireland’s “paper of record” or a copy of the New York Times, which boasts, on its cover, that it contains “all the news that’s fit to print”. When faced with large-scale prolife rallies, the Irish Times is not interested in recording actuality just as the New York Times has not managed to fit within its pages an accurate depiction of major prolife events here in the States (e.g. the annual March for Life).
A new anonymous video exposes this penchant for “pro-choice” partiality. It’s called “The Irish Times Way”, a minute and a half piece with slickly designed graphics that show the blatant bias as it undeniably unfolds. The bias is not only in the printed word, but even more powerfully embedded in an image.
A picture is said to be worth “a thousand words”. This is why photojournalism is so powerful, especially when the photographer and the news outlet choose which unspoken words will be conveyed. On December 4th in Ireland, thousands of people (some sources say there were over 10,000 participants) packed the streets of Dublin rallying for Life. In the wake of the tragic and exploited death of Savita Halappanavar (who never requested an abortion and whose life would not have been saved by one, according to doctors worldwide), Ireland is facing the reality that abortion may become legalized in their prolife country.
Massive numbers of young people led the rally. It was impossible not to see them. But the Irish Times managed to grab a somber candle-lit photograph of solely elderly woman. I mean no disrespect to the wonderful champions for Life that have been our older generation, but the news media wants the public to believe they are the only ones fighting for Life. The scene was comprised of only a handful of people, all of which were old or indistinguishable. And, of course, in the foreground one sees a religious sign, only one of a tiny handful seen among thousands of pre-made placards that communicated two messages: “Love them Both” and “Fine Gael: Keep Your Pro-Life Promise”.
It reminds me of the New York Times’ deliberate omission of any print coverage of the last five years of the largest rally to hit DC every year—the March for Life. Although in 2011, they were certain, just like the Irish Times, to misrepresent. They tucked away some images of the March in their online Politics sections that were ridiculously unrepresentative of the hundreds of thousands of people who flooded the nation’s capital. One image shows a line of about 15 men–priests– receiving communion before the March. Another shows a near empty scene with three people walking down a sidewalk filled with huge piles of “Defend Life” placards (yet to be picked up by the throngs of young people). There’s not a single wide shot of streets jammed with mostly young and exuberant marchers—just close-ups and severely cropped shots of the backs of peoples’ heads. Bizarre? No. New York Times.
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The same is happening in Ireland, where this prolife country is facing intense global opposition to its protection of women and children through its abortion ban. Groups like Prolife Campaign, Youth Defence, Life Institute and others are trying to hold their elected officials, especially their Prime Minister Enda Kenny and the ruling party, Fine Gael, accountable to their prolife promises. With the nature of political cowardice that befalls politicians everywhere (I call it ‘spine flu’), that may prove just as hard as expecting their mainstream media to commit to the much heralded, but rarely implemented, principles of journalistic integrity and objectivity.