Monday, May 29, 2006

No Love the Gays in Today's ABJ

I always giggle a little when conservatives go off on the liberal bias of the Beacon Journal. My short answer is to assure them that we liberals take no comfort in the Beacon’s reportage. My longer response is to cite something specific like today’s fronter on Federal anti-gay-marriage amendment.

I read it. I read it again. It sure seemed like the article tilts heavily for the ban. It’s not just that the article gets to the third graf after the jump before proponents of gay marriage get a turn to talk. It isn’t just that the article begins and ends with long quotes from gay marriage opponent Bishop Johnson. The weight of the thing seemed for the amendment and against gay marriage.

One of my problems with the “Liberal Media” meme is the lack of rigor. Conservatives often either fulminate without specifics or cite isolated passages from articles before crying “Aha!” Happily, this article gives us something to test. It’s supposed to be a balanced description of the two sides. So I used highlighters to mark the passages quoting anti-gay-marriage activists (orange) and pro-gay-marriage activists (blue.) Unmarked text is descriptive material that’s essentially neutral.

Here’s the marked front:

And the jump:
If it looks like a lot more is orange, you are right. It measures out to about 15 column inches for the anti’s against nine for the pro’s. And that’s counting as neutral the block marked in green that describes the history of the Alliance for Marriage’s efforts to pass a constitutional anti-gay-marriage amendment. Think area conservatives will thank the BJ for giving them two-thirds more coverage? Neither do I.

Not only is the coverage weighted, the sourcing is uneven. Collette Jenkins, the ABJ religion writer responsible for the piece talks to Bishop Johnson for the local anti-marriage/pro-amendment side, but a couple of citizen activists as counterweight. She acknowledges in sidebar that a faith-based coalition is working against the amendment, but interviews no clergy for the story. I know my minister would have talked to her – indeed she participated some time ago in a forum in the BJ with, among others, Knute Larson from The Chapel. Clergy are available, but this piece makes it look like simply people of faith vs. we heathen unless you bother to follow the jump and read the sidebar.

Happily, the comments on the website trend more for gay marriage than against. If the BJ thinks they were playing to the crowd, they may have been mistaken.


terra said...

I hope you've seen this video. It is truly amazing.

Why is the Senate forcing themselves to vote on this? Can Republicans really pass this constitutional amendment? Some will be forced by logic to vote nay, even though they've been following party line all along. Do they really think this is a critical issue that is keeping Americans up at night? We are discussing what people do in the bedroom on Memorial Day weekend, when our troop deaths from the war in Iraq are nearing the number of people killed on 9.11.

Kyle said...

Watch that video Terra linked to. It is just absurd.

My dinner Friday: "Kyle, where does it stop? Huh? I mean, should people be allowed to marry a dog? Where does it end? Are you going to marry this chair? A toaster? People pass state bans by overwhelming percentages for a reason. People believe in the institution of marriage and believe it should be between a man and a woman. End of story."