Ohio Newspaper Prints Correction to Biased Abortion Story
by Steven Ertelt
December 22, 2003
Dayton, OH (LifeNews.com) — In the face of charges of bias and plagiarism, the editors of the Dayton Daily News newspaper have offered a correction to their news story on a federal court upholding a state law banning partial-birth abortions.
When an editor at the newspaper inserted a paragraph from a pro-abortion op-ed into the news article — verbatim and without attribution — the newspaper turned itself into, what one leading pro-life advocate called, a case study of media bias on abortion.
Not only did the paragraph reiterate errors concerning partial-birth abortions, it was reproduced from a rabidly pro-abortion editorial that called unborn children "parasites" and said pro-life laws turn women into "breeding mare[s]." (See https://www.lifenews.com/nat253.html for the complete story).
After Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, contacted the newspaper regarding the errors and plagiarism in the paragraph, Assistant Local Editor Hal Davis said he included it to provide a simple overview of when and why partial-birth abortions were performed. Vince McKelvey, the Public Affairs Editor of the Dayton newspaper whose wife is a former Planned Parenthood staff member, defender Davis’ actions.
However, over the weekend, the newspaper printed the following correction:
"In Thursday’s editions, Page A1, an editor inserted into a story regarding a court ruling on late-term abortions a paragraph taken from an article found on the Internet. The intent was to provide a definition of a late-term abortion method. This use of material from another publication without attribution is neither standard, nor acceptable practice and should not have taken place. The National Right to Life Committee contacted the newspaper and objected to the definition as inaccurate and biased. The Dayton Daily News acknowledges the mistake and apologizes for the error. The story should have said the procedure was developed for abortions in the second trimester of pregnancy, with fetuses around 20 to 24 weeks old. Defenders of the procedure have acknowledged that in most cases, the fetus and the mother seeking the abortion are healthy."
The Dayton newspaper’s chief editor, Jeff Bruce, told the Washington Post, "It was an effort to make the story better that went awry. It was simply bungled."
Bruce claimed Davis had no political motive to borrow from the pro-abortion editorial and added that Davis is embarrassed by the situation.
Johnson said more media outlets should be held to task for their shoddy reporting.
"While the Dayton Daily News has run a correction, there should be more scrutiny of the prevalence of the assumptions that cause many reporters and editors to propagate such mythology," Johnson explained.
"There are many other recent examples of journalists presenting essentially the same old myths about partial-birth abortion in the voices of their papers — without attribution, but usually without directly copying another identifiable source," Johnson added.
Johnson said it is not uncommon to encounter journalists who readily accept facts from pro-abortion groups, but are quick to dismiss as biased any information coming from pro-life organizations.
Some of the problematic media outlets he has encountered include the Gannett News Service, the Guardian (UK), the San Francisco Chronicle, and CBS News.
Related web sites:
National Right to Life – https://www.nrlc.org