Two Protests were held in Washington, DC this week around the issue of war in Iraq.
An anti-war contingent organized the largest public rally in recent memory agains the policies of the Bush Administration. They expected 100,000 people, and all estimates I've seen of actual attendance ranged from 100,000-200,000.
The next day, a counter demonstration was organized by groups that support war and agree with our current President. Organizers said they expected 10,000-20,000 attendees. The actual turnout according to the Associated Press--"as many as 400."
Despite the massive difference in scale between these two demonstrations, the Oregonian gave more space, and better coverage to the pro-war gathering. They ran two stories, a 10 paragraph piece on the anti-war gathering on page A-10, and a 17 paragraph piece on the pro-war gathering on page A-2.
So, the anti-war gathering had at least 250 times as many people, but got 40% less ink, and was buried in the middle of the paper, while the pro-war side gets on the back of the front page--one of the most read areas.
Additionaly, each story got one photo, the anti-war story had a young long-haired guy in a knit cap yelling, in front of a bunch of dancing hippies, while the pro war photo is a well composed shot of the stage that features 3 clean cut men in matching shirts in front of a gorgous american flag backdrop.
Which story do you think the average reader is more likely to stumble accross, and which photo do you think the average reader would identify with?
I personally am sick of going to protests with thousands of normal everyday people and then seeing the one shot on the news of three bald men in white robes with candles and flowers in their hair--or whatever other freaks the media can find to discredit everyone else who attended.
The Oregonian has a Public Editor to deal with these issues, I called him this morning to complain, and he agreed that it seemed biased, but said that the difference was that Saturday was a busy newsday, while Sunday was not. There may be some truth to that, but it's not a good excuse, they did a profound disservice to our community.
The Public Editor is Michael Arietta-Weldon, he can be called at (503)221-8221, or e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please take a few minutes to let him know that their coverage didn't fool you, and that you expect better.