Front Page: Comparing '93 v '09
DC Gay Marches
This analysis was carried out by veteran gay progressive thinker Bill Dobbs of New York City. He's got some startling figures about how the media covered those two
marches - a huge drop in front page stories. Thanks, Bill, for updating your '93 project and comparing it with coverage of Sunday march and rally for LGBT rights. Here's the Dobbs take on front page news coverage of the two marches:
Today I tried to update a project from some years ago - Front Page: How American Newspapers Covered the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation. The project was both a survey of the coverage and a traveling exhibit of 156 front pages from April 26, 1993.
Many of the newspapers gave that march very prominent coverage. My contention then was that no lesbian/gay organized event had ever received such wide notice.
Here are some highlights from '93:
87% had front page coverage (136 papers)
6% had headlines or photos on the front page referring to stories inside
6 % had inside stores
1% did not cover the march in Monday editions.
Back then it took quite a lot of effort to collect the papers. Now the Newseum www.newseum.org puts hundreds of newspaper front pages online everyday. With the Newseum material as a resource I tried to use the same sample of daily newspapers.
The 1993 sample was 156 daily papers including the largest by circulation along with some others for geographic balance, also a few with small circulation and two Spanish language papers.
Fast forward to 2009 and some of the papers have merged, gone out of business, unavailable, etc. – so the sample for this quick look is 145 papers from all 50 states and Washington, DC. published October 12, 2009.
Here’s what I found:
11% had front page (16 newspapers)
22% had a headline or photo on the front page referring to inside coverage (32 papers)
Without print editions handy it is not feasible to survey for the inside stories or papers that did not cover the story at all. This is a quick look and that may be all that’s possible for me to do.
For whatever the reasons the coverage of the 2009 event rarely made the front page. If the complete print editions were available one might be able to see sidebars, accompanying graphics, photos, etc. and draw some conclusions about the overall quality of coverage.
For example, some papers in 1993 took the trouble to do stories about local contingents heading off to DC. How original was the reporting? No doubt the AP story was picked up by many outlets in 1993 and 2009 but my sense is that more papers assigned their own reporters to do the coverage in 1993.
These events had different organizing schemes and which may have impacted coverage – the 1993 march enjoyed a broader community consensus.
Here are the 16 papers with front page coverage of Sunday’s event:
Los Angeles Daily News CA
Denver Post CO
New Haven Register CT
Washington Post DC
Chicago Tribune IL
Louisville Courier-Journal KY
Bangor Daily News ME
Concord Monitor NH
Trenton Times NJ
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle NY
Toledo Blade OH
Providence Journal RI
Salt Lake Tribune UT
Richmond Times-Dispatch VA
Charleston Gazette WV
Casper Star-Tribune WY
The Front Page exhibit was itself the subject of some news coverage in the Philadelphia Inquirer and The New York Times.