Saturday, April 30, 2005

blame the media

When all else fails, blame it on the media. Surely it's that the liberal media has it in for the pro-life movement and hates crisis pregnancy centers. There can't be any other explanation for why the silent work of crisis-pregnancy centers doesn't get more coverage, can there?

This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because we believe that the news media won't make any effort to present our story, we don't spend any effort reaching out to the media and giving them a story that they'll run with. So the news media doesn't report anything positive about crisis pregnancy centers, thereby proving that they are in bed with pro-choice activists.

Media outlets love heartwarming stories about people helping other people in need. That's a big part of liberalism, don'cha know? Forget the rhetoric, take the time to develop a serious media campaign, and spend the money it would take to implement it properly, and pro-life groups will find they're getting more coverage of their activities.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that I'm not just a liberal journalist. Let's pretend that I'm also a pro-choice liberal journalist. Chances are that I'm going to be one of those who just takes abortion as a for-granted position, and it's not an obsession for me at all, any more than auto insurance reform.

Every time I run into someone who is strongly pro-life, they rant and rave about how Planned Parenthood is killing babies, how the media are deliberately covering up the dangers of legal abortion to protect their allies in the abortion industry, and how we always go for the sensational stories that make pro-lifers look like idiots and ignore the things they quietly do to help pregnant women. Every now and then I'll encounter other wackos who automatically assume that I'm going to hell and publicly call on people to pray for my soul, without even stopping to find out anything about my spiritual state.

That's a fairly rude way to treat someone. It irritates the real me, who has been pro-life since his teen years. I can only imagine how much worse it would go over with a pro-choice me.

This isn't just about publicity and marketing. A lot of it is about plain old-fashioned manners.

Want coverage of other aspects of the pro-life movement than the loudmouths at demonstrations and protests? Then find some way to make "business as usual" sound compelling. It's not that hrrd -- there are literally thousands of PR firms that do just that for their clients, every day. Get the local Birthright or some other pro-life group to hire me, and I guarantee I will start getting them into the newspaper, and not just little three-inch press releases, either. Most advertising money is money poured down the drain, anyway.

I can't begin to tell you how many times as a reporter and as an editor small-business owners called us up to let us know about what was going on, or just loved it when we used their business for a news story. Nonprofits loved it too -- it always drove up the giving and got their message out to the community.

Conservatives and churches have bandied about the term "liberal media" so much that they've created a divide that doesn't have to be there. Groups that could benefit tremendously from the news media just don't think about it because they've been told so many times that the media have it in for them that they believe it. And so, rather than being in the world but not of it, we withdraw further from it, and create our own media to broadcast our message loud and clear to people who already know it by heart.

It is within our ability to get the right horns tooted, but to do that we need to take the initiative to do it, and make a better effort to get along with the people who work in the news media. Complaining that it's not our fault doesn't accomplish either of those purposes.

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