Abortion: Journalism's Most Sacred Cow

Discussion in 'News / Current Events' started by Revmitchell, Apr 17, 2013.

  1. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    In newsrooms of the 1970s and 1980s, a general consensus emerged on two fraught political issues. The first, affirmative action, was understandable. Expanding the pool of what had been a white male-dominated profession was not only a laudable social goal, it was a logical business imperative for newspapers seeking to expand their reach. And it was even more than that. If you worked for any major news organization, including the sprawling newspaper chains that dominated the landscape, it was also official corporate policy.

    The second issue, in a sense, grew out of the first. That issue was abortion, or in the vernacular adopted by the media, “abortion rights.” To say that big city editors and reporters were “pro-choice” is to understate the case. Mostly, it went without saying: Roe v. Wade was the law of the land, and any reporter or editor who harbored doubts about it -- and those who voiced them aloud -- was considered a sexist, or perhaps a religious nut.

    Editorially, most newspapers supported abortion rights. Two studies done in the late 1980s showed an overwhelming majority of U.S. journalists personally supported legalized abortion, numbers that were almost certainly higher among elite news organizations. And after the Newspaper Guild formally endorsed “freedom of choice,” journalists began marching in pro-choice rallies.

    James R. Bettinger, city editor of the San Jose Mercury News -- the paper I worked for after San Diego -- remembers having the nagging feeling that our coverage of demonstrations by those opposed to abortion suffered because of the monolithic views of the reporting staff.

    I spoke about that subject this week with Bettinger, now the longtime director of the Knight Journalism Fellowship program at Stanford University.

    “I was convinced there were stories we were missing and nuances we were trampling on because we weren't hearing [the pro-life] perspective voiced in the newsroom,” he told me. “For all I know, there may have been reporters and editors who felt strongly on the issue, but it wasn't getting voiced. It felt to me like a failing.”

    Read more: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/ar...sms_most_sacred_cow_117987.html#ixzz2QkeSQObL
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