Can the NY Times Count, or Quote, Peace Activists
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and news reports
ACTION ALERT: Can the New York Times Count-- or Quote-- Peace Activists?
October 2, 2001
Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, the New York Times has downplayed and distorted peace rallies and demonstrations against a military response.
After thousands of anti-war activists gathered in Washington, D.C. on September 29, the Times responded with a 10-sentence story, under the headline "Protesters in Washington Urge Peace with Terrorists." Given that a call for bringing terrorists to justice through non-military means was central to the rallies, the headline is a gross mischaracterization of the protesters' message.
The Times also misreported other basic facts, like the size of the crowd in Washington. The Times estimated that a "few hundred protesters" were on hand, while the official police estimate was 7,000 (Washington Post, 9/30/01). One only had to watch the live coverage on C-SPAN to know the Times was way off.
The next day, the Times ran a slightly longer story about the second day of protests on page B7. The photo that accompanied the story, however, was dominated by a sign held by one of the counter-demonstrators: "Osama thanks fellow cowards for your support."
The rallies held in Washington were not the first time the paper downplayed peace activism. On September 21, the paper reported on the protests that were held on about 150 campuses across the country. But the perspectives of the thousands of students who participated in the day of action were almost entirely absent. Of the 11 students quoted in the article, only one voiced an anti-war opinion. Instead, the article was dominated by students who supported going to war, or those who could not recall seeing any anti-war sentiment on campus.
ACTION: Please call on the New York Times to improve its coverage of the peace movement by including the perspectives of anti-war activists in its reporting about the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
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