Both the West Coast Walk for Life and the D.C. March for Life hosted large rallies to commemorate the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade this week. Organizers say the former drew over 40,000 participants, and the latter, 400,000, but neither event drew much coverage from major media outlets.
Kristi Hamrick, media consultant for Americans United for Life, told The Christian Post that "there has been a dwindling in the coverage" of these pro-life rallies.
She keeps tabs on the coverage for AUL and said this year "AP barely mentioned what was going on and had a picture of three pro-abortion supporters in their story." She also said The New York Times had no coverage of it except to say that Rand Paul was arrested at the airport on his way to speak at the March for Life.
Hamrick also noted that CBS news did a photo montage of the Washington, D.C., event and, of the 14 pictures posted, half were of the small number of pro-abortion protesters near the march.
"In the way it was covered, you would get no sense in the mainstream media how many people were there. You might get the feeling from most pictures that there was an equal number of pro-life and pro-abortion supporters," she told CP.
She said that the way it was handled by the media was a "miscommunication of the scope of the event." They failed to capture the energy or the fact that many marchers are young, she said. "The movement for life is with young people."
Eva Muntean, co-chair for the San Francisco Walk for Life, noted much the same was true of the west coast event.
"We noticed the lack of coverage," she told CP. She said only one TV station and one radio station covered the event from the San Francisco area. A photographer from The San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco's largest newspaper, did show up, but the paper did not run a story on the event.
"This year's non-performance surprised even me," Muntean said in a released statement. "The Walk for Life brought out approximately 50,000 people, closed down Market Street and caused the rerouting of 18 bus lines. But the coverage consisted of one TV story, one radio segment, and a photo and two sentences in the San Francisco Chronicle."
By contrast, she said, "In the past 90 days they have published 415 articles on Occupy Wall Street movement."
The West Coast Walk for Life blog kept track of the media coverage of the event and most coverage came from Christian or religious media outlets.
The San Francisco Huffington Post ran an article covering the event, but it mentioned the small pro-abortion rally taking place nearby before mentioning the Walk for Life, even though the pro-abortion rally attracted only about 100 people. Nonetheless, the liberal paper IndyBay said, "The pro-choice rally was given good coverage."
Gauging the number of people at the events is often hard because police refuse to release a head count.
Muntean said she had a volunteer film the entire San Francisco march in order to confirm her estimate of over 40,000. Nellie Gray, president of the March for Life in D.C., told CP that she was going to try to get a more definitive number by looking at photos and making a headcount per block. She told CP that last year's event attracted 400,000 people, and "no doubt there was more this year."
Teresa Tomeo provided television commentary for the EWTN Catholic network during the event, and she also said this year's crowd was bigger. "The lack of media coverage is really shameful," Tomeo said. "The members of the press are supposed to be public servants providing clear information on timely events and topics."
She said in a released statement, "One of the most appalling aspects of the lack of coverage is ignoring the powerful stories of those who suffered from their decisions to either have or help procure an abortion," she said. "These voices need to be heard – not silenced or neglected – as they raise real concerns about a billion dollar industry and its horrendous treatment of women."