Yet Another Media Blackout on the March for Life Show Clear Abortion Bias

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 28, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Yet Another Media Blackout on the March for Life Show Clear Abortion Bias

by Maria Vitale Editorial Columnist
January 28, 2009 Note: Maria Vitale is an editorial opinion columnist for She is the Public Relations Director for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation and Vitale has written and reported for various broadcast and print media outlets, including National Public Radio, CBS Radio, and AP Radio.

When I was a graduate student in journalism, our professor asked a number of us in class one day whether we were pro-choice or pro-life. When he turned to me, I really wasn’t prepared to commit. I worried what the other members of my class might think if—horror—I admitted I was pro-life.

So I reached for what I thought would be a clever, inclusive phrase and labeled myself “pro-compromise.” I had taken the coward’s way out, and it would be years before I found the strength to embrace the pro-life cause.

During the same class, our professor stated that, as journalists, we could never march in an abortion-related protest. In his view, such an action would represent a betrayal of bias, an unwarranted departure from the island of neutrality he thought that journalists should inhabit with regard to the issue of abortion.

I worked full-time in journalism for nearly a dozen years. A number of the reporters I worked with prided themselves for their objectivity. They went out of their way to cover “the other side of the story.” And, in many cases, that meant covering the pro-life side.

I still believe journalism can be a noble occupation because, at its essence, it is supposed to be an attempt to find and share the truth. Not an excavation for an outrageous soundbite, not a hunt for sensational video, but a mirror allowing society to see itself, blemishes and all.

Having worked on a high school newspaper, studied journalism in both college and graduate school, worked as a reporter and producer, and substituted as an assignment editor, I can say there is no legitimate excuse for the virtual media blackout on the March for Life. It defies reason to say that, when a quarter of a million people travel from across the country to march through the streets of the nation’s capital, it is not news.

I used to think that the media didn’t cover the march because it happened every year—therefore, it wasn’t new. However, there are a number of other events that occur on a regular basis that receive their share of news coverage—snowfalls, telethons, anniversaries of tragic events, to name a few.

And one could argue that the fact that tens of thousands of people have been descending on Washington on January 22nd for 35 years is, in itself, a remarkable achievement which should at least be acknowledged by the major news outlets.

By ignoring the March for Life, the news media do a grave disservice to the public. Viewers have a right to know that thousands of their friends and neighbors find it important enough to miss work and school one day each year in a show of solidarity against abortion.

The media blackout on the march isn’t just an oversight. It’s poor journalism. And our nation suffers because of it.

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