Journalistic malpractice: Metro daily serves up embarrassingly incomplete, one-sided abortion story

Oh, this is bad.

So, so bad.

If you read GetReligion with any frequency, you know we've pointed out — once or twice or a million times — the rampant news media bias against abortion opponents.

But even graded on that negative curve, the Charlotte Observer's weekend coverage of an anti-abortion rally takes slanted, inadequate journalism to a whole new level. This is, to use a term familiar to regular readers of this journalism-focused website, Kellerism on steroids.

Seriously, we're talking about a major metro daily publishing a news story built almost entirely upon quotes from a single source — an abortion clinic administrator. The Observer didn't bother to send a reporter to the pro-life rally and apparently couldn't (or didn't want to) locate a single person out of hundreds who attended the rally to comment on it. 

Nonetheless, the Observer feels compelled to report the pro-abortion official's claims as gospel truth:

The leader of a Charlotte abortion clinic claims the city improperly gave a pro-life group a parade permit, and is demanding answers after a large protest at the facility Saturday left patients feeling harassed.
Calla Hales, the administrator at Preferred Women’s Health Center of Charlotte on Latrobe Drive, said the city had rushed approval for a permit for pro-life group Love Life Charlotte. That left Hales’ center less time than usual to prepare for the demonstration, she said.
The event was billed as a prayer march that would draw 1,000 men to the clinic to stand against abortion, according to a Facebook page. Justin Reeder, founder of Love Life Charlotte, called on men to discourage women from getting abortions, in an effort to highlight how abortion impacts men.
“The truth is that this is more of a men’s issue than it is a women’s issue,” Reeder said in a video on the Facebook event page. “We forget about the men so often in this story.”

Not only does the paper rush to publication before allowing anyone on the pro-life side to respond to the clinic leader's claims, but the story — based on my reading of the same Facebook page — unfairly characterizes the intent and spirit of the event.

Here's what caught my attention on the Facebook page (see if it paints a different portrait than the one above):

Over and over our partners on the front lines hear women leaving the abortion clinic saying they wouldn't have even considered abortion if the father was willing to walk beside them.

That's why we're calling 1,000 men to join us at our Men For Life prayer walk tomorrow morning. To show women that men do care about the issue of abortion and to declare to the community that it's time for men to stand up and start taking responsibility.

The reader who shared the Observer link with us offered this succinct — and 100 percent correct — critique:

One-sided, to say the least. Unquestioned acceptance of harassment claims. Failure to attend rally. Failure to find and interview pro-lifers. Amusing reference to "explicit" pro-life songs about life in the womb.

Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. And — on the last part — amen to the notion that the newspaper needed to quote specific lyrics.

As if to emphasize one last time the biased nature of the piece, the Observer ends its story this way:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said no arrests were made at the event.

Sure, don't quote any pro-life demonstrators. But by all means, insinuate that their behavior might have raised the possibility of arrests.

Oh, this is bad.

So, so bad.

Image via Love Life Charlotte Facebook page

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