Heaping Burning Coals on the Media

Doesn’t an event that draws nearly a half a million protestors deserve media coverage?  If you’re a Catholic news reporter, it doesn’t get much bigger than the March for Life, but the mainstream media apparently disagree.  The major players all seem to go out of their way to avoid adequate or even minimal coverage of an event that drew more people in one day than all the “Occupy” protests combined.  Maybe they’d take notice if we renamed the March for Life something like Occupy Life or Occupy the Womb.  But I digress.

News editors, producers and reporters must make tough decisions every day about what to cover and how to cover it.  If we were to ask the editor of a major newspaper, or a producer of a big time news program why he or she decided to ignore the March for Life, we would more than likely be told that it happens every year, that they’re all the same people, and they say all the same things and do the same stuff – and they don’t see a “new” angle.  Those who do cover the story seem to do so in a way that is dismissive and almost comical, choosing to focus on the two-dozen-or-so-counter-protesters rather than document the hundreds of thousands of actual participants.  (See example.)   This may be an attempt to avoid accusations of pandering to the right by writing an unbalanced story, or an act of sabotage based on the belief that pro-lifers are a bunch of aging angry women-haters who deserve to be exposed.

I know, I know – and I agree with you.  These are ridiculous excuses for poor journalism, and we all want to strangle the media.  But take it from someone who is one, journalists don’t like to be told they’re wrong. Journalists pride themselves on being know-it-alls; they are supposed to be know-it-alls, and Washington journalists are probably the biggest know-it-alls of all, so they won’t listen to your cries for them to wake up, and will roll their eyes at your tired accusations of bias. My point is, when you’re dealing with media professionals, scolding them won’t help because they expect to be reproved, and might even enjoy it.

I want to try a different tactic, as laid out by St. Paul:

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, on your part, live at peace with all. Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ Rather, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.’ Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21)

So, let’s suppress the urge to rail against them in the comment boxes.  Let’s instead help them out by doing our own reporting on an event that they don’t seem to understand.

  • The three major cable networks provide the means to be a “citizen reporter” – (CNN iReport, MSNBC FirstPerson and FoxNews uReport ). Inundate them with your submissions.  Send photos, and videos, and firsthand accounts.  I’m sure there are many other sites with similar features.
  • Use the social media. Find some big name reporters and friend them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter and then send them your same materials. Make the message trend. I was so disappointed when I logged onto Twitter in the middle of the afternoon and didn’t see #marchforlife trending – this shouldn’t be.  Even people with simple texting functions can send out tweets.  Let’s tweet for Life!

How many of us were cheering from home for the half-a-million marchers and wishing we could be there with them?  We probably numbered ten times more than those who actually made it to DC.  We didn’t march, but we can help spread their message by searching for their videos on YouTube and sharing them, tweeting and re-tweeting March for Life messages, or linking to blog posts and pictures on our Facebook pages.  Those of us with blogs could even interview people and tell their stories.

Let’s upstage the mainstream media and grab the spotlight by using the blogosphere and social media.  Our message can be promulgated without their help as long as we are united and deliberate.  If we choose positive action rather than ripping them apart, we will repay bad journalism with good–and people will notice.


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About the Author

Anna Mitchell is the news director and anchor for the “Son Rise Morning Show” on the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network. As a reporter, she has covered the controversial commencement at Notre Dame that honored President Barack Obama, the 2010 Pallium Mass in Rome and the first-ever National Theology of the Body Congress. She is a contributor to the “Today’s Catholics – Young Adults” section for the Integrated Catholic Life. Anna’s favorite hobby is collecting old books to add to her bookshelves in her trendy downtown apartment in Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated from Ohio University in 2006 with degrees in Journalism and History. She loves reading, writing, playing guitar, and watching Reds baseball, Ohio State football and Project Runway. Anna is learning Italian so she can live in Rome someday, and is also very active in the St. Gertrude 20s Group in Cincinnati.

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