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Pro-Life Organization Launches Campaign Against Media Bias

Shoko Oda |
July 29, 2013 | 5:40 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Lila Rose, founder of Live Action, via Pro-Life Unity
Lila Rose, founder of Live Action, via Pro-Life Unity
Pro-life activist Lila Rose launched a movement against skewed media coverage in an attempt to counteract the attention that abortion legislation has been receiving since the Wendy Davis filibuster. 

In 2003 Rose founded Live Action, an organization to bolster support for pro-life causes. Rose and the other members of Live Action are running a "March on the Media" campaign to alter the course of further discussion on abortion. They hope to address the bias that they believe prevails in media coverage of abortion debate.

Through the campaign, Live Action has written open letters to major US news networks including ABC, CBS, and NBC. Activists also plan to hold rallies outside these media headquarters in the near future. 

The campaign was launched in response to the minimal attention the Gosnell trial received from the media.

Kermit Gosnell, an abortion clinic doctor, was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without parole for medical malpractice including murdering babies that had been born alive during abortion procedures. 

According to Live Action, the Gosnell trial received sparse coverage compared to the Wendy Davis filibuster in June. Live Action has cited reports and data from the Media Research Center, arguing that in the span of 19 days, Wendy Davis filibuster received three times more coverage than the Gosnell trial did during the entire 58-day trail. 

Prior to graduating from UCLA, Rose founded and distributed a pro-life magazine The Advocate, which is now the largest pro-life magazine and is distributed at more than 300 high schools and colleges.

Rose has gained a reputation with the media for her undercover investigations of illegal abortion practices at facilities like Planned Parenthood. While inconspicuously taping the conversations that occur at Planned Parenthood, Rose and her team have recorded various questionable practices at the facility, such as the failure report statutory rape when Rose, posed as an abortion-seeking 13 year old and mentioned that the father was 31. 

"The media has flinched from the reality of abortion fore decades, but the degree to which they mischaracterize and whitewash this issue has become egregious lately," said Rose regarding her motivations to launch the campaign.

Despite the vigilant efforts by the Live Action campaign to address their dissatisfaction with the media's handling of abortion issues, debates about media bias are nothing new.

The traditionally corporate structure of large media outlets often forces them to make "a business decision" on what to present to the audience.

"Debates on media bias occur when the American public and its interests are not well served by the lack of coverage of major news events or when news coverage is slim to none concerning issues of importance to the average citizen," explains Dora Kingsley Vertenten, a Professor at USC's Sol Price School of Public Policy. 

Debates about media bias resurface every now and then. But now, news is not confined to traditional sources; social media has become an alternative method of accessing and debating issues such as abortion.

In the most recent and notable case, Wendy Davis' filibuster in the Texas Senate garnered tremendous attention among social media platforms like Twitter. Hashtags like "#standwithwendy" and "#SB5" trended worldwide. Minutes before the filibuster deadline, 5,776 tweets per minute were tweeted about the story. Many flocked to YouTube to see the live coverage of the event as well. 

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are "changing both the nature of the news people are learning about as well as the way in which [they] consume news and information," explains Vertenten. "These information technologies represent the biggest sea change since the Industrial Revolution." 

"That's been how we mainly consume media nowadays, through "sharing"," commented Andy Su, a junior at USC. "When my friends share an article online, they preface it with their opinions… this can turn any objective news posting into a biased one, from selective quoting to a full out rant to preface the articles." 

Despite the criticisms that may come with news and information from social media, sophomore Yasmeen Serhan believes that the newly-rising social media platform actually allows for more pluralism.  

"I believe that ultimately social media allows us to hear different views and perspectives beyond the reports of mainstream media that allow us to think more critically about different issues, abortion rights included," said Serhan.

Yet, social media now enables individuals to customize and filter what news sources they wish to follow.

Rose's campaign is aimed at bolstering awareness to her pro-life cause by addressing media bias that give more coverage on pro-choice activists like Wendy Davis. But in a day when one can simply choose to opt out from all pro-life related activities and stories, Rose's campaign may face a limit on the extent to which it can increase awareness among those who do not necessarily agree with pro-life arguments.  

"As for abortion, I think it's just one of those hot-button issues that people hear about and automatically relay back to their stance on pro or against," added Serhan. 

Rose's efforts to combat liberal media biases may or may not affect large, traditional news networks that have dominated coverage of the recent abortion debate, but with the "wild west" of social media as an alternative source of news, it's hard to determine how effective her campaign will be at moving the hearts and minds of the wider American public. 

Reach Staff Reporter Shoko Oda here



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