After yet another large protest downtown — this one in support of refugees, immigrants, and Philadelphia’s status as a sanctuary city — it’s interesting to take a closer look at the three major networks’ coverage.
6abc’s leading story, an hour after the end of the march, described a head-on collision in West Oak Lane. Off to the side, following a story about a scuffle between a suspect and police, and another about a woman hurt by a pole, was a link with the tepid headline, “Demonstrators march against travel ban in Center City.” One would think that thousands of protestors marching from City Hall to Independence Hall, where Vice-President Pence addressed the Federalist Society, would warrant more precedence on the news roster. Reading the article sheds no light on how many people came, or on the issues at hand.
CBS Philly’s write-up provided moderately more information, acknowledging the sheer number of participants, but questioning the efficacy of street marches. Again, the article provided no analysis or linking to a larger context.
NBC 10’s coverage won the match today, getting the name of the protest right (March for Humanity); reporting the numbers involved; noting that it was non-violent with no arrests; discussing transportation issues in Center City; and wrapping up with putting today’s event in the context of recent news.
As activism increases in the city, people are turning to new outlets for coverage, such as BillyPenn.com and the PhillyWeRise Facebook page. We may see more and more grassroots journalism as the local channels struggle to capture the bigger picture.