Low marks for media coverage of anti DOMA rally

Jan 12th, 2009 | By | Category: News

The national protest calling for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) probably doesn’t rate the top story status when balanced against massive unemployment, high crime rates, and the economic disaster, but that still doesn’t excuse the media for scant coverage of an important issue.

KBCI Channel 2 was the only television news station to assign a reporter to the Boise rally against DOMA that was held in front of Boise City Hall on Jan. 10. The shooters sent by KIVI-TV Channel 6 and KTBV Channel 7 sprayed video of people gathering, but mostly spent time standing by their tripods engaged in conversation.

Boise television media standing around and chatting
Boise television media not covering the real story
(Photo: Michelle Chalifoux)

One of Channel 6’s top stories that night was the high cost of heterosexual weddings – talk about irony. The financial cost of heterosexual weddings trumped the cost of local same-sex couples who paid the price of losing their legal rights. The straight wedding saga was the lead story on KIVI at 5:30 pm, 6:30 pm, and 10 pm.

Channel 6 KIVI Big Story Wedding Show over crime & DOMA
This heterosexual wedding show lead all three broadcasts on Ch. 6 KIVI.

Idahoans at the rally who paid the cost of losing their legal rights didn’t seem to register as a news item with that station’s director.

KBCI’s Nicole Navarro did put together a package and she at least tried to explain the issue, although she described the crowd as “dozens” of people who attended. The head count was closer to about 110 people (or maybe nine dozen), but the local news media disappeared by the time the rally was in full swing.

The Boise rally had more people than Seattle and half as many as in Boston where Rep. Barney Frank addressed the crowd.

The Seattle Times reported that about 70 people attended the rally held in that city, while the Boston Globe said almost 200 showed up in Boston. For a much smaller city, Boise’s DOMA rally was pretty successful, but you wouldn’t get that perspective from the local media.

The Idaho Statesman was basically a no show. However, a staff reporter did contact Jody May-Chang, DOMA rally organizer and PrideDEPOT.com editor the next day to ask how the event went. That conversation resulted in The Statesman coughing up about four paragraphs.

Navarro’s report did unfortunately include yet another on-camera interview with long-time anti-gay political activist, Bryan Fischer with the Idaho Values Alliance. Fischer spewed his usual asinine rhetoric about how same-sex marriage will lead to legalizing incest, permitting pedophiles to marry children, and polygamy.

Reporters think that by giving this nut case an interview that they are getting a balanced story. Fischer is intentionally outrageous because he knows his propaganda attracts reporters much like flies to rancid garbage.

Bryan Fischer Idaho Values Alliance same-sex marriage Channel 2 KBCI
Bryan Fischer getting propaganda face time with Ch. 2
KBCI’s Nicole Navarro

The public restroom that was visible during Fischer’s on-camera interview with Channel 2 brought to mind another peculiar wide stance whacko, but you didn’t hear that from me.

Radio stations typically don’t cover rallies, but they did get the news release and media advisory and a call to the head organizer would have nailed a story that could have reached Boise listeners. And as far as KTRV-Fox 12 was concerned, they were a no show.

Rallies generally do not make interesting news; they never have unless you are anticipating a massive turnout and a strong police presence. That being said, the DOMA rally in Boise managed to get some better than anticipated coverage – not great, but not a failure either.

The issue itself goes beyond speeches, chants and protest signs – at its very core are families. DOMA impacts real people who are Idaho citizens who are marginalized by those who use fear and bigoted stereotypes to reinforce falsehoods.

If the media can’t spare a reporter to cover a rally, they should consider going to where the real story is; in the homes of same-sex couples who are successfully raising children while facing the injustice put upon them.

There is more to this story than a protest rally and shame on the media for not reporting on it.

KBCI Channel 2 Coverage

PrideDEPOT.com editor, independent journalist & LGBT media spokesperson,
Jody May-Chang now writes on "As I See It...Reporting from the front lines

As I See It Jody May-Chang.com Reporting from the front lines

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