Monday, July 04, 2005

Nashville Newspaper Snubs NOW (National Organization for Women)

If you knew that the National Organization for Women (NOW) convention was going to be in Nashville this past weekend, the chances are great that you didn’t learn about it from Nashville’s major daily newspaper, the Tennessean. If you did learn about it from the Tennessean, you read about it in the business calendar immediately prior to the day the convention began and were likely forced to change all your plans in order to attend the event.

Nashville’s major daily newspaper, the Tennessean continues to show its bias in favor of all things conservative. Remarkably, people call this newspaper “liberal.” The paper is much like some of the state's democratic legislators in that it tries to please people on both sides of the political spectrum. Instead of pleasing, it comes across as a schizoid publication that has no mission other than to rake in as many quarters as possible. If you read its editorials, you might get the idea that the paper leans Left. But look at any other part of the paper, and we are talking about a Washington Times wannabee.

On Saturday, the second day of the NOW convention, the paper ran a
narrow little story about one workshop at the NOW convention. I’m not sure how the Tennessean missed the NOW press conference held early on Friday or the fact that the convention had changed its entire focus in response to Sandra Day O’Connor’s resignation from the Supreme Court. Saturday's story didn't say a word about Friday's press conference or the fact that NOW was holding a very large demonstration for women's rights on Saturday. While the Tennessean stayed away from Friday's press conference, other media did not. In fact, I had no idea that there were so many media people in the area!

On Sunday, the last day of the convention, the paper did a story about the rally that it didn’t mention the day before. Perhaps the paper heard about the rally from the national media. Maybe they saw it on CNN, as I did. The sight of almost 1,000 women rallying for women’s rights in downtown Nashville was certainly something you don’t see everyday. It took my breath away.

The women, along with some extraordinary men, who attended the NOW convention and rally were from every state in the nation. In Tennessee, they came from Nashville, Memphis, Smyrna, Bristol, Maryville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, War Trace, Kingston Springs, Bell Buckle, Hendersonville, Jackson, Murfreesboro, Peagram, Kingsport, Pleasantview, Oak Ridge, Johnson City, etcetera.

Certainly it was big news to have Carol Moseley Braun, the first African American woman senator ever, speak in front of the State Capitol. One might have thought that an event which featured the world famous leaders of the women’s rights movement, Eleanor Smeal, Kim Gandy and Delores Huerto would be regarded as a national news story.

The Tennessean put together a short and choppy story and then buried it on page 2 of the local news.

Local news?

This is the same newspaper that recently splashed a headline story about a local one-man protest on its front page. The one man was also featured in a very large photo. Yeah, he was conservative.

The page 2, local news story devoted all of 389 words to the NOW rally. There were 176 more words devoted to “a small group opposing the rally.” The “small group opposing the rally” was, in fact, “a small group” of two (2) people!

Somehow the two (2) people rated almost a third of the entire story’s word count. Gee, do you think the paper has something against the country’s largest women’s rights organization?

The Tennessean is fair and balanced like Fox News.

Call me crazy, but I thought the sight of all those women demonstrating in front of the State Capitol was a truly astounding sight. You could even call it picturesque. Yet the paper couldn’t get it together to publish even one photo of the remarkable event. (But then, the reporter probably wrote the story at home while watching it on CNN.)

It’s obvious that the Tennessean doesn’t take the women’s rights movement very seriously. Or maybe it doesn’t take women seriously. If we’d been a very large gathering of men, I suspect our pictures would have been splashed all over the front page, with a full week of follow-up stories.

Or, if we had been
Southern Baptist women, or any kind of conservative women, you can be certain our story would have taken up the entire front page of the very unliberal Tennessean.

You wouldn’t know it by reading the Tennessean, but if it weren’t for NOW, the women of America might still be earning 59 cents to the male dollar. If it weren’t for NOW, it might still be legal to fire a woman for the crime of getting pregnant. If it weren’t for NOW, newspapers might still classify help wanted ads by separating them into well paying jobs for men and poverty waged jobs for women. The list of NOW’s victories for women’s rights is far too long to publish in a newspaper that specializes in short-attention-span stories, but a paragraph would have been nice.

Note to Tennessean: We know your reporters are clueless about the history of the women’s rights movement, but still they could take better notes. When women won the vote here in Tennessee it was because of the mother of Harry Burns, which is what Kim Gandy said, not Harry Brown, (whoever the heck he is) which is what your reporter said. Look it up!

The Tennessean’s snub to the largest women’s rights organization in the country did give the women something to talk about back home. And we had fun joking about it on the last day of the convention. After all, the story was on CNN, it was featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, the LA Times, the Houston Chronicle, Newsday, The UK’s Guardian, and a slew of newspapers all across the country. Sounds like somebody thought it was national news.

The Tennessean covered the event just like a provincial red state newspaper would.

Gee, wonder where the paper stands on women’s suffrage?

See a partial list of the
media coverage of the NOW convention and rally in Nashville.