The Post’s Different Standards in Covering Political Rallies

The disparity between the coverage The Washington Post gave to Saturday’s “One Nation” rally and the Beck rally in August is unmistakable.  One need only click on the link of stories of each to see the difference.  Click on “Full coverage: Beck, Sharpton rallies” and the results are:

· Sharpton’s ‘Reclaim the Dream’ event brings thousands to honor MLK

· Apocalyptic views hinder constructive political debate

· Glenn Beck ‘Restoring Honor’ rally draws thousands (video)

· Al Sharpton’s ‘Reclaim the Dream’ march (video)

· The battles inside the GOP

· Beck, Palin tell thousands to ‘restore America’ (main story)

· The only thing being restored by Beck is prejudice

· Civil rights’ new ‘owner’: Glenn Beck

· Beck: America is turning ‘back to God’(video)

· Palin: ‘We must restore America’ (video)

· Sharpton: ‘The dream has not been achieved’ (video)

· King’s legacy debated before Beck march

· How to have a rally on the Mall

· Where will Glenn Beck rally money go?

· Today’s rallies (graphic)

· 1 rally, 3 channels and many paths

· Glenn Beck rally in context: Events on the Mall (photos)

· Sharpton: Beck, Palin distorting MLK’s dream (video)

· Preparations for Glenn Beck rally underway (video)

· Tea party guide to D.C.: Racist or overblown?

· Dr. Gridlock: See where the rallies are

· Beck sets religious tone for ‘Restoring Honor’ rally

For the “One Nation” rally:

· Tens of thousands attend progressive ‘One Nation Working Together’ rally in Washington (main story)

· One Nation on the National Mall (photos)

· On the Mall, a counter to conservatives (video)

· Marching for jobs (video)

· Q&A, Transcript: One Nation rally: Liberal groups gather Saturday in Washington

· Dr. Gridlock: Rally road closures

· Share your rally photos (reader provided)

· Share your political signs photos (reader provided)

· DC rally shows support for struggling Democrats (AP story)

The lead-up to the rallies offers a similar difference.

In the week before Beck’s “Restoring Honor” march, The Post published:

· Three op-eds and

· a 2,342-word story on how the march would be a “measure of tea party strength.” 

· On the day of the march, you published a 2,722-word story on the “meaning of the march.”

· Plus a 795-word story about TV coverage of the march.

· And a 1,331-word story on how to host a march on the Mall, giving further exposure to Mr. Beck’s march. 

The longer two stories were reported on page A4.

In the week before Saturday’s “One Nation” march, The Post published:

· one op-ed in the print edition,

· one 669-word story Thursday and

· a 500-word story on the day of the march (compared to Beck’s 2,722 word story). 

Bottom line:  more than 7,000 words for the conservative rally (not counting op-eds) and less than 1,200 for the progressive rally.

(Meanwhile, on Saturday, The Post also had a 1,168-word story about how abused Tea Partiers are by their friends and neighbors.)

On the day after the Beck rally, Post coverage was much more expansive, including a main story that included contributions from nine Post reporters.  Apparently, three covered the One Nation rally.

This disparity in coverage is ongoing.  Back in April, The Post covered two conservative marches in Washington that totaled no more than 2,100 tea-party and gun rights protesters in Washington.  Coverage was by no less than four Post staffers, while a New York City march of about 7,500 progressive protesters garnered 300 words by one reporter.

In the Post ombudsman’s response to me at the time, he said the two rallies by conservatives received greater attention because they were local.

I believe the Mall is still in D.C.  and that’s still local.

No “meaning” of Saturday’s progressive march story or one on a “measure of progressive strength”?

I can remember the paucity of coverage to a 2002 march on Washington against the Iraq War.  Coverage was relegated to the Metro section of The Post.

My research tools are limited to The Post’s web site and Lexis-Nexis, so I may have missed some stories.  But there seems without doubt that The Post has a habit of allocating fewer resources and less coverage to marches by the left than it does by those on the right.  I would not subscribe the differences to the reporters.  Rather, it is editors who seem to have different standards of coverage.

Post Coverage of ‘One Nation’ March

On the day of the Glenn Beck rally August 28, The Post ran a 2700+-word story on its meaning, a nearly 800-word story on the media coverage of it, and another 1300+-word story on how to host a march on the Mall.

Today, that same newspaper has one dead tree story that’s about 500 words, although online that same story is 800 words with the most noticeable edit being mention of a last minute lawsuit by the event staging company that produced the Beck rally to stop this one over claims of misuse of the company’s proprietary information.  A judge threw out the suit.

By the way, the online version is the first I’ve seen this week that didn’t include a photo of the Beck rally!

Meanwhile, on the front page of the Style section, there’s a 1,128-word story on how Tea Partiers are abused and misunderstood by friends and neighbors.

Post Coverage of Progressive March Finally Makes the Paper

On Monday I wrote to the national desk of The Post wondering where was coverage of the One Nation progressive march scheduled for Saturday.  I also had an exchange of emails with staffer Dan Balz.  He argued that The Post had coverage in July, but that story was about the One Nation coalition forming, not about any march on Washington.

On Tuesday, a story about Saturday’s plans appeared online, posted about midday.  I expected the story to appear in the dead tree edition the next day.  It didn’t.  Instead, a similar version of that story appeared online again yesterday, with a new time tag.  But if you click on my original Monday link to the story, you get the new version, which deleted a paragraph I quoted in my Tuesday post about how this rally may compete with the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally scheduled for the end of October.

(This is not the first time The Post has posted a story and then reposted an edited version.  The first version is no longer available.)

So far, this rally has received much less coverage by The Post leading up to it than did the Glenn Beck “restoring Honor” rally on August 28.

In the week before Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” march, The Post published in its dead tree edition:

· Three op-eds

. A 2,342-word story on how the march would be a “measure of tea party strength.” 

· On the day of the march, it published a 2,722-word story on the “meaning of the march.”

· Plus a 795-word story about TV coverage of the march.

· And a 1,331-word story on how to host a march on the Mall, giving further exposure to Beck’s march. 

So far for the progressive’s rally, we have basically the same 600+ story that has been online for two days but finally makes the paper today and an op-ed by Harold Meyerson.

Meanwhile, E.J. Dionne comments today that the upcoming rally has received much less attention than the Beck rally because Fox News seems to set the mainstream media agenda.  Amen.

Post Covers ‘One Nation’ Plans

Probably just coincidence, but after my call to The Washington Post yesterday pointing out that the New York Times had written about the progressive rally planned for this weekend, but there was no word about it in the paper of record of the town in which it is being held.

This morning, a story has been posted on The Post’s web site.  This ‘graph cracks me up:

Unlike Beck’s rally, in which overt politics took a back seat to religious and patriotic themes [emphasis added], the progressive groups will repeatedly remind attendees at their rally to vote in November’s mid-term elections, said Arlene Holt Baker, executive vice president of AFL-CIO.

Religion and patriotism is politics to those on the right-wing fringe.

This, alas, is true.

It is unclear how many people will make it to Washington for the rally, but organizers’ expectations are high. Last week, the rally’s leaders were still trying to raise money to bring 50,000 students to the event. A plan by Comedy Central television hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to hold dueling rallies on Oct. 30 could appeal to some potential One Nation participants, creating a less-than-desirable competition for liberal-leaning would-be activists.

But let’s recall, The Post has an unfortunate history over the last decade of giving prominence to conservative rallies and shorting progressive ones.  When I wrote about this earlier this year, I also had an exchange of emails with Post ombudsman Andy Alexander, who argued that the reason tiny protests (2,000 on the Mall and 50 gun-activists at Gravelly Point) received such attention in the paper was because they were local and that those groups’ PR people had predicted a large turnout.  Four reporters assisted in the coverage.  Let’s see what this weekend’s marches get.

Progressive Rally Ignored by The Post?

I find it curious that, given all the run-up coverage The Washington Post gave to the Beck rally on August 28, I can find no mention in The Post about the planned rally this coming weekend on the Mall by progressive groups, who have stated their goal is to surpass the number of people who attend the Beck rally.

The New York Times covered the plans this weekend.

When I called the Post’s national desk this morning, the man answering could give me no answer and transferred me to Dan Balz’s email.

UPDATE:  After a series of email exchanges, I was referred to a July story about not the planned march but the formation of the “One Nation” coalition.  We’ll see if The Post gives this march much coverage and whether it rates this archived altar to Beck’s rally.

Comparisons of Protest Coverage

Dateline: April 20, written by two Washington Post reporters and assisted by two more.

The protest by hundreds of gun-rights advocates [emphasis added], billed as a national march in support of the Second Amendment, drew small but fervent groups to the Washington area. As many as 2,000 people gathered in the shadow of the Washington Monument, and about 50 at Gravelly Point and Fort Hunt parks in Virginia.

Total number of words: a little more than 500.  As I recall, the story—in print—also had prominent placement on the Metro front page or maybe it was on A1, but it definitely had a large photo accompanying the story, which as any editor would tell you, draws more readers to the story.  The photo was of the 50 folks at Gravelly Point.  Online the story includes a video and 18 still photos.

In today’s Post, there is a story about protests against Wall Street, organized by labor, community and progressive religious groups and the NAACP, most likely to be the political opposite of the gun-lovers:

Thousands of union workers, students and unemployed New Yorkers [emphasis added] angry over high unemployment, reckless financial industry practices and billion-dollar bailouts gathered Thursday to march in the financial district in Lower Manhattan, one of a series of rallies organized by a coalition of labor and community groups.

Online, the story, which was written by only one reporter, is nearly 600 words.  But in the print edition of The Post today, it was less than half that and buried on page A16.  No photo and no video or photos online.  Other reports said there were “several thousand” protestors.  Another said there were as many as 7,500.

Would anyone care to explain to me why the different emphasis in coverage by The Post?  Why does a protest that attracts 50 people draw on the resources of four reporters and earn a photo and prominent placement while another that draws 150 times that is virtually ignored?

The Power of Three

The Washington Post covered a protest over the weekend outside the home of Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio). 

They showed up to decry the freshman congressman’s vote for the overhaul, standing in the chilling rain most of the afternoon Sunday holding signs that read: "Driehaus Voted to Destroy Our Children’s Future" and "Remember in November."

How big a story is this?

Sunday’s gathering, which never included more than three people at a time [Emphasis added], was anchored by Jim Berns, a libertarian who has run for Driehaus’s seat three times and for the state legislature 10 times. He wore a suit and waved at the congressman’s neighbors — a couple of whom greeted him with a middle finger, others with a thumbs-up.

What do you think the likelihood is of The Post covering a three-person protest in favor of healthcare?