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What’s airing on Pro-Life Perspective Today? “Dealing with Media Inaccuracies,” Part 1

by | Oct 8, 2012

NRLC President Carol Tobias

By Carol Tobias, NRLC President &

Pro-Life Perspective Host
   Working with the news media is something we have to do in order to get our message out. But inaccuracies–whether by inserted by mistake or because of an overt bias against the right to life message –make it difficult to convey the truth through television, newspapers and radio.
This week I’d like to examine the role of journalism in our world today and the effect of media bias on the pro-life cause.
Journalists, working for news agencies, are charged with the responsibility of reporting world and local events.
First and foremost, pro-lifers need to remember that news agencies are not public institutions in the strictest sense except for public television and radio, of course. Although they are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, news organizations are money making corporations who rely on advertising revenue to remain solvent. Bigger news outlets even sell stock in their companies.
Reporting standards are imposed by the news organizations on themselves.  No one can require the conservative publication Human Events to publish organized labor’s perspective, nor can anyone force The National Right to Life News to publish the viewpoint of the nation’s largest performer of abortions, Planned Parenthood.
However, there is an industry-wide ethic that journalists are taught in journalism school which states that unless you are working for a news agency which purports to convey a special interest, you should report both sides of an issue in a neutral and impartial fashion.  In other words, this self-styled duty to be objective is a “should,” rather than a “must.” Our job as National Right to Life and pro-lifers is to appeal to this sense of fairness and accuracy–it cannot be demanded.
We have seen that building relationships with reporters can be the key to our success in working with the press. The more we work with reporters and they come to trust us as a source, the more likely we are to get fair coverage in that particular paper or on that particular network.
The larger the audience of a given media outlet, the more intense the competition you will face in getting your message out.   For instance, from local talk radio up to national networks, the listenership can range from hundreds up to millions, depending on the outlet. For those in the news media, it becomes increasingly difficult to discern whose version of the truth to print.  Building relationships and the credibility of your organization become vital.
Fortunately, National Right to Life has spent years building relationships with key reporters in the press. Some reporters have literally made careers at the same paper. As a result, these are reporters we speak to on a regular basis.
Does this always make are jobs easier? No. Even with reporters you’ve known for years, inaccuracies can still make their way into news stories. However, with our relationships with these reporters, we have the ability to call them or e-mail them to point out what we felt was inaccurate about a particular story. Because of our relationship with them, these reporters are much more open about mistakes and are more willing to admit it when there is something wrong in a story.
Please be sure to join me tomorrow as we continue our look at media bias. If you would like more information you will find links to extensive information on our website at www.prolifeperspective.com.
Also you will find a link to National Right to Life News, the newspaper of record for the pro-life movement. NRL News editor, Dave Andrusko, ensures that every issue is packed full of the latest information about the pro-life movement. Our web address again iswww.prolifeperspective.com.
[Editor’s note. You can also subscribe to National Right to Life News and/or order extra copies of our Special Election Edition which we just printed over the weekend by calling 202-626—8828.]
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