Days after my quest for answers about why the media downplayed abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell's abortion trial went viral, we have seen approximately eleventy billion media analysis pieces about the coverage. Many folks have written mea culpas copping to pro-choice bias, ignorance, or other journalistic failures. Some folks have tried claiming that the coverage was really there, usually pointing to either 2011 or the day the trial began (a curious approach, given what we know about the time-space continuum). Others have said that since conservative outlets didn't cover it (except, you know, they did), that excuses the lack of mainstream coverage. Some folks just reacted defensively, yelled at me and called me names. It really ran the gamut. What we haven't seen terribly much of, however, is good coverage of the trial, the abortion industry, regulation of said industry or the larger issues in play. The New York Times hasn't run anything in days, after one particularly weak story that barely mentioned the trial.
Or take the Los Angeles Times. Let's take a trip through its search engine. When birth control activist Sandra Fluke was called a bad name, did it think that a story worth covering? Yes, big time:
All (50) Stories (43) Videos (1) Galleries (0) Photos (6)
What about that Komen/Planned Parenthood dust-up? The East Coast media flipped out about the decision by a private breast cancer foundation to stop funding the country's biggest abortion provider. Did the Los Angeles Times? Yep:
All (38) Stories (25) Videos (5) Galleries (0) Photos (8)
What about that Missouri Representative, Todd Akin, who said something very stupid about rape? Uh, yeah:
All (78) Stories (64) Videos (8) Galleries (0) Photos (6)
So before we look at how the trial of Kermit Gosnell has been covered by the paper, let's look at how the paper has covered another distant case, one that hasn't even gone to trial yet. The case dealing with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Oh boy:
All (281) Stories (165) Videos (74) Galleries (4) Photos (38)
Which brings us to the Times' coverage of Kermit Gosnell.
Since we're in the final weeks of the prosecution's case, should we expect to see 300 items about it? 400? How about:
Stories (2) Videos (0) Galleries (0) Photos (2)
And both "stories" are from the last couple of days and aren't even news items about the trial. They're both opinion pieces about what the absence of coverage says about the media. One is Jonah Goldberg's column and the other is an in-house editorial headlined: "Dr. Kermit Gosnell abortion case: Why no national media spotlight?"
If the not-even-yet-occurring trial in the death of Trayvon Martin -- something that took place across the continent, mind you -- is good for 281 hits, the Los Angeles Times has some 'splainin' to do. Or major catch-up.
Moving past Gosnell serves no one. It should be covered first and foremost because it's important news, at least as important as these other stories. But it also needs to be covered thoroughly and prominently if the media hope to restore a positive reputation and rebuilt trust with readers and viewers. The media's reputation isn't going to fix itself.
OK, I wanted to write that all as a preliminary for looking at some of the more worthwhile media analysis pieces out there, but this is getting too long. We'll begin to take those up in the next post.
Photo of journalist getting to work fixing industry problems via Shutterstock.