Covering the March: Mixed Emphasis

A day after the National Equality March, people in the Washington, D.C. area woke up to a page one, above the fold story on the march in the Washington Post.  If they opened up the cross-town rival Washington Times, the story was given a single-line preview of the A13 story from the Associated Press.

The WaPo gave the march the best play of any newspaper in the country.  Although the march took place in DC, the story itself had a national focus and very few local angles.

Tens of thousands of gay-rights activists marched Sunday in Washington to show President Obama and Congress that they are impatient with what they consider piecemeal progress and are ready to fight at the federal level for across-the-board equality, including for the right to marry and the right to serve in the military.

Key votes on same-sex marriage are coming up in the District and Maine, and Obama reiterated his campaign promise Saturday to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that forces gay and lesbian members of the armed forces to keep their sexual orientation a secret.

But organizers of the National Equality March and its participants said they want to shift the political effort toward seeking equality in all states, rather than accepting just local and state-level victories.

Relying on the Newseum’s Today’s Front Page website that features the front pages of newspapers around the world, it’s clear the march got very little page-one play. A march story made the front page of the Chicago Tribune and the Denver Post, which ran the New York Times story.

In California, neither the LA Times or San Diego Union Tribune mentioned the march at all on the front page. The Orange County Register had teaser to a page 12 story, the San Francisco Chronicle teased a lead story in the metro section. In Florida, the Sun-Sentinel had no mention of the march on the front page, while the Miami Herald teased a page 3 story at the top of the paper and the St. Pete Times had a brief to inside story.

Elsewhere, there were front page teasers in the Baltimore Sun, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Las Vegas Review-Journal, the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Dallas Morning News, USA Today, and Arizona Republic.

No mention on the front page of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Wall Street Journal, Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Oregonian, or the Houston Chronicle.

In broadcast world, the march got strong coverage on the premier Sunday evening news shows.  At NPR, Guy Raz led with two lengthy stories on All Things Considered Sunday. On NBC and CBS (I was unable to determine ABC’s coverage), the Sunday night news shows played the stories prominently, with NBC leading its news with a controversial story quoting an anonymous White House source goading gay bloggers to “take off their pajamas.”

LESTER HOLT: John what we saw in that protest today, was it simply frustration or does it represent a serious problem the President is having with an important part of his base?

JOHN HARWOOD: As a practical matter Lester I don’t think it’s a serious problem. we’ve seen and certainly Bill Clinton learned that they Democratic President can get punished by the mainstream of the electorate for being too aggressive on social issues so for now I think the administration feels that if they take care of the big issues — health care, energy, the economy — he’s going to be just fine with this group.

HOLT: But in general when yo look at the left as a whole, have there been conversations about some things they thought would have been done but haven’t?

HARWOOD: Sure but If you look at the polling, Barack Obama is doing well with 90% or more of Democrats so the White House views this opposition as really part of the “internet left fringe” Lester. And for a sign of how seriously the White House does or doesn’t take this opposition, one adviser told me today those bloggers need to take off their pajamas, get dressed and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult.

There are plenty of reasons to explain why a story does or doesn’t end up on the front page of the largest newspapers, but it is surprising the story only made the front pages of three papers. On the day after the president speaks to the nation’s largest LGBT group, tens of thousands of people head to the streets in the nation’s capitol, yet only three major newspapers featured the story. The next time someone mentions a liberal bias or a pro-gay bias in the news, it’s worthwhile to think about how this story was played by the major U.S. news outlets.

(Note: Links to front pages change daily and therefore links are no longer active).

2 Responses

  1. To the same effect, the New York Times on Saturday, Oct. 10, the eve of the march, ran a non-breaking, page-one story on anti-abortion protesters that led into a full-page display with four sidebars on individual protesters. On the facing inside page was Jeremy Peters’ story, “Debate on Gay March Exposes Division in Rights Movement.” As Michael implied, so much for ‘liberal bias.”

  2. […] Just how much coverage did print newspapers give the National Equality March? (More […]

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