Where were the protest pictures?

Question: Would you please tell me why the paper (and the TV newsmen to a lesser extent) plainly avoided pictures of the protesters at the Bush rally? Is it just plain political preference on the publisher's part? Or ar they afraid to go against the administration? Or what? It certainly didn't seem like they were covering the news, as it really was. -- Doris Gerhart

Answer: I think we've already addressed this to a certain extent. Our goal during the president's visit was to cover the visit. Protests against the president and demonstrations in his favor were part of the event and were fully covered in our stories. But we didn't provide much photo coverage of either side. That is, in part, because the protests were peripheral to the major news event. But it's also true that, in general, we cover protests sparingly. Protests are, by their nature, media events. They rarely advance an issue or contribute new thinking to a problem. They are staged to attract media attention and win photo or broadcast coverage. That's a game we try to avoid playing. A group will not be assured of news coverage simply by holding a rally. And the numbers game, played by all sides, is not part of our thinking. It doesn't much matter that the antis had 25 percent more than the pros. To win coverage beyond the most basic acknowledgment (for the historical record), something has to be said that moves the news forward. Now, some will argue the president's entire visit was a media event that failed to advance any issue. That may be true. But it doesn't really matter. The president is always newsworthy, regardless of party or politics. I don't think that's an argument too many people can dispute.

As to publisher preference and the internal politics of the newsroom ... I have no clue what the publisher's preferences might be in the upcoming election. We haven't talked about that yet. And the publisher plays no role whatsoever in daily news decisions. No editor, reporter or photographer, including myself, ever discussed the president's visit or our coverage with the publisher. As dialogue on this page has shown over and over, political bias is more often than not in the eye of the beholder. -- Steve Smith, editor

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