I just had my first brush with an advocacy site positioning itself as an honest news source … when its “news” was so dishonest I did a double-take. I thought I was more worldly.
I was looking for updates to Sunday’s Women’s March in Washington, DC. Yesterday’s mainstream news reported turnout around 1 million. DC police said the march met or exceeded expecatations; the parade permit was for 750,000.
So imagine my surprise when the first story I read after a news.Google search said that there were only a few hundred thousand marchers.
A few hundred thousand people attended Sunday’s march for abortion, significantly less than the one million people organizers expected. However large the number, pro-life groups say the march participants don’t represent most Americans.
The site looked like any news site — stories were datelined. The second sentence alone should have caused my eyebrows to rise sooner. Or this excerpt: “…organizers couldn’t find enough people who supported abortion to attend. As a result anti-Bush, anti-war, and anti-globalization protesters were invited to swell the ranks.”
What had I stumbled upon? I still can’t believe Google includes this site in its “news” database: it’s LifeNews, “an independent news agency specifically devoted to reporting news that affects the pro-life community.”
News agency? What? Says who?
News agencies supply news to newspapers, magazines, radio and television. News agencies are organizations like Reuters, AP and UPI. News agencies are not propaganda machines. News agencies are not advocacy organizations. LifeNews is a lot of things, but a news agency ain’t one of them. The worst thing is that some people believe that these words are true, even though the same Web that led me to the site could lead them to unbiased news.