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[casi] Action Alert from FAIR: NY Times & Wash Post bury news abouthistoric peace rally (fwd)

thanks to Walter Miale, Al Awda and FAIR f.
 news about historic peace rally (fwd)
Date: Tue, Oct 1, 2002, 2:59 am

An action alert from FAIR states that the New York Times and Washington
Post gave little attention to what the London Independent called "one of
the biggest peace demonstrations seen in a generation." The demonstration
called for no attack on Iraq and for "Freedom for Palestine." According to
the London Observer, the police estimate of 150,000 was too low and was
politically motivated.

Does the New York Times conceive its journalistic function to be to inform
the public regarding the most vital issues of the day, or to spread and
amplify the prevailing groupthink, no matter how jingoistic? - Walter Miale


Date: Mon, 30 Sep 2002 15:13:51 -0700
Subject: Fox Hunting Trumps Peace Activism at Washington Post & NYT
From: "FAIR" <>
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                    Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
               Media analysis, critiques and activism

Fox Hunting Trumps Peace Activism at Washington Post & New York Times

September 30, 2002

Last Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of
London to protest military action against Iraq, rallying in what the
London Independent called "one of the biggest peace demonstrations seen in
a generation" (9/29/02). Yet neither the Washington Post nor the New York
Times saw fit to run a full article about the protests, instead burying
passing mentions of the story in articles about other subjects.

In contrast, both papers showed real interest in another recent London
march of comparable size-- last week's protest against a proposed ban on
fox-hunting. The Washington Post ran a 1,331-word story about the
fox-hunting protest on the front page of its Style section (9/23/02),
while the New York Times ran a short Reuters piece on page A4 (9/23/02),
which it followed up with an op-ed exploring the class politics of the
hunt (9/24/02). A Times story on Prince Charles' involvement in politics
(9/26/02) also made reference to the pro-fox-hunting protest.

Estimates of the crowd size at the peace march vary. The Independent
(9/29/02) reported both the police estimate of 150,000 protesters and the
organizers' early estimate of 350,000; similarly, the London Times cited
the police estimate alongside a later organizers' estimate of 400,000
(9/30/02). A London Observer columnist (9/29/02) who attended the march
dismissed the police figures as politically motivated, writing: "The Stop
the War coalition last night claimed the total was more than 350,000; the
police reluctantly moved up from 'four men with beards and a small dog' to
150,000, and the truth was, if anything, even higher than either."

According to British press reports, the peace march was notable not just
for its size, but for how broad-based it was. Organized by the Stop the
War coalition and the Muslim Association of Britain, the demonstration was
focused on two main slogans, "Don't Attack Iraq" and "Freedom for
Palestine" (Guardian, 9/30/02). The Observer (9/29/02) reported solidarity
between the causes, describing an "an undeniable unity of purpose" in a
diverse crowd that included everyone from Muslim activists in keffiyah to
"Hampstead ladies with their granddaughters in prams." According to the
Independent (9/29/02), "the sheer numbers who turned out to express
vociferous opposition to military action in Iraq… meant there was no way
they could be dismissed as 'the usual suspects' of the hard left."

Despite all that, the entirety of the New York Times' coverage of the
peace march was nestled at the end of one sentence in an article titled
"Blair Is Confident of Tough U.N. Line on Iraqi Weapons" (9/30/02). Many
Labour Party MPs, said the Times, "were encouraged by the turnout of
150,000 protesters who staged an antiwar march in London on Saturday".

The Washington Post managed one reference more, but seemed to have
seriously under-counted the crowd. The Post article "Iraq Rejects
Inspection Revisions" (9/29/02) mentioned "thousands" of protesters in
London, and an article the next day about European opposition to U.S.
unilateralism referred to "tens of thousands" of demonstrators.

Britain is the only European country backing the Bush administration's war
plans, so the size and composition of the London peace march-- not to
mention the arguments articulated there-- have particular relevance to the
international debate over Iraq. The pro-fox-hunting march, which also
addressed broader issues of urban/rural tension in England, was newsworthy
enough, but much more local in focus. Given the looming prospect of a war
that could kill thousands of people and throw an entire region into
turmoil, it's disturbing that the New York Times and the Washington Post
gave the two events such disparate treatment.

ACTION: Please ask the Washington Post and New York Times why they did not
devote more attention to the September 28 peace march in London, and
encourage them to give serious, thorough coverage to peace activism in the

Washington Post
Michael Getler, Ombudsman
(202) 334-7582

New York Times
Toll free comment line: 1-888-NYT-NEWS

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