Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 22, 2006
Media responds to pro-life story
Some covered the event, some didn't, and no one got the attendance right
-CCN photo by Deborah Gyapongt
This young demonstrator is just one of 6,000 pro-life supporters who marched in the ninth annual National March for Life walk in ottawa.
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
When nearly 6,000 pro-life demonstrators descended on Ottawa for the ninth annual National March for Life May 11, the national news media paid attention this year.
Usually press gallery members ignore the march or give it scant coverage that vastly underestimates crowd figures. This year, they were in the crowd with their cameras and microphones.
"I think it's great the media's here," LifeCanada president Joanne Byfield said in an interview. "I just wish they would hear the message and not just lay a political trap for the Tories and social conservatives."
"I think the message is getting out," said Aiden Reid of Campaign Life Coalition, which organizes the annual march. "It's less and less of a political hot potato every year. The media is slowly coming around."
He pointed out that in recent elections there is a marginal increase in the number of pro-life MPs elected each year.
"I'm optimistic we're going to win this battle," he said. "It's just a matter of when."
Charges of a hidden agenda to turn back abortion "rights" played a role in the last three federal election campaigns.
During the last campaign, Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised not to reopen the abortion debate and imposed discipline on his caucus in what has been described as a "gag order" on pro-life MPs to neutralize the hidden agenda argument.
"Obviously we're concerned about any MPs being muzzled," Reid said.
But he said he was not worried by negative mainstream news coverage because traditional news outlets are "becoming irrelevant."
The Internet, Talk Radio, Christian publications and newspapers are allowing the pro-life movement to "go over the heads of the powers that be and these highly-paid fancy journalists who want to tell people what to think," he said.
CBC Radio's report focused on the thousands of young people who made up more than half of the marchers.
The Citizen reported only 2,000 marchers, while the Globe and Mail put the number in the hundreds.
CBC TV News ignored the march, while CTV News reported that many of the participants in the march voted Conservative believing there was a hidden agenda on abortion.