When The Times Thinks 6 Protestors Are Worth 524 Words
By Don Feder
Monday March 9, 2009

When is a picture worth 524 words? When it’s a picture of disaffected Catholics protesting their church.

On Friday, The New York Times gave widely disparate treatment to two protests the day before, as noted in a press release by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

A group of six — count ‘em, six — Catholics held a press conference on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, to criticize the New York Archdiocese for allegedly downplaying the number of priests accused of molestation, and for not releasing the names of the accused — before formal charges were filed, or an investigation launched.

The Times considered this worth roughly 87 words per protestor. Given the way The New York Times treats scandals involving the Catholic Church, it’s entirely possible that the paper would have devoted as much space to a solitary protestor standing on the steps of St. Patrick’s in the middle of a blizzard.

Compare this to its coverage of a union rally at City Hall the same day. According to the other New York newspapers, thousands showed up for this protest, yet it only rated a photo and a 39-word caption in The New York Times. There was no accompanying story.

Anti-Catholic bias is a regular feature of The Times. As we noted in a February 27 posting, the day before, the paper ran a quarter-page photo meant to depict Ash Wednesday observance in New York City. The photo showed a priest giving ashes to a woman. No one was in line behind her.

According to the Catholic League, thousands showed up at that church on that day. The Times photographer, who was there for hours, waited until the church was almost empty to take a picture meant to show Catholicism in decline.

Note to groups having a demonstration, rally, protest or picket in New York City: If you want wall-to-wall coverage in The New York Times, be sure to have someone criticize the Catholic Church.

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