I have commented on this issue in various places on Atheist Nexus, but the utter dearth of notice by print and television media is worthy of further comment and action. As many A/N members have observed, none of the major television news organizations gave any notable coverage to the Reason Rally, at least not as evinced by any news broadcast or webpage that I have seen to date. Whether they were more involved with Trayvon Martin or the GOP primary contests or what, I don't know. Maybe they feel that 20,000 at a rally isn't significant ... or they want to ignore us because we make their believing audience nervous. I can think of all sorts of excuses, but no salient REASONS.
That said, I am repeating here the message which, with slight variations, I sent to NBC, ABC and CBS yesterday:
Sunday, 25 March saw over 20,000 people gather on the Mall in Washington, DC to celebrate reason, more specifically, the Reason Rally. This was a major event for the atheist community with multiple personalities lending their support, including Dr. Richard Dawkins and Adam Savage of the "Mythbusters" television series. To my knowledge, not CBS, NBC, or ABC devoted any coverage to this event. Considering the assault which the Separation of Church and State is currently under, I believe the Reason Rally was deserving of mention, particularly since CBS aired a commercial from the Freedom From Religion Foundation during your CBS Sunday Morning program and then again today (26 March) on the CBS Evening News.
We are atheists and we are productive citizens of this nation ... and we deserve notice.
Once again, I encourage all A/N members to let these and other media outlets know of our displeasure at their lack of coverage.
CBS News feedback site
ABC News feedback site
Feedback to NBC News may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes, post as many links to media you can find, encourage others to write them and point out that they're ignoring a very large and growing demographic.
Here's the thing though, this was the first major gathering, there will be more. The primary focus of this event, from what I could fathom, wasn't just to get our voices out into the mainstream, …but to focus our voices, network our communities, and promote a unified grass-roots movement.
In this, the event was a success. There were meetings, conventions, planning sessions and alliances either forged or strengthened; for many days before Saturday, and many days after Saturday.
Do not forget this.
We are a large group of very diverse human beings who have one point of data that we all adhere to by necessity, …a non-belief. That diversity is a strength ONLY if we unite to promote dissent and contempt for the things that theists, in their diversity, have banded together to advocate for centuries… most of it either batshit crazy or very dangerously oppressive to those they see as "them", …and that's not just atheists.
So, we also have to get the word out to the GLBT Rights, Women's Rights, Civil Rights, Etc; communities and their media sources —that we are a voice, and are a target of the same Christian Taliban Asshat Fuckwits that are oppressing them...
Organize, step up our activism, network with other groups...
So that the mainstream can't ignore us.
THAT …is what I took home as the purpose of the Reason Rally.
(even if you've read that blog linked above, go read it again, especially the new content at the bottom)
Thank you for your activism Loren. I've long felt that the news can only do one thing at a time in a big way. Also, a few years ago there was a gay rally in DC with lousy coverage. Local coverage of pride parades is usually good, especially if there is something outrageous or lurid. Maybe we need to start local atheist pride parades.
USA Today covered the Rally in a brief story. You are right the other sources were abysmal.
This really was a good story, a unique and meaningful one. Maybe the news carriers are too concerned about backlash from the christian communities. Fox, especially, seems to be right wing christian central.
Here's a one:
Atheist View is really hateful Bill Donahue, …lying sack o' shit asshat (wait, was that hateful?), comment the fuck out of this one.
What's important is, when you DO see content, …hit the comments sections hard, if they have them. This is one of PZ Myers tricks of the trade, …that and atheist bombing surveys and polls involving atheism/theism issues.
We should try to get a kind of "Clearing House" forum/group for this… Hey, that's a good idea.
Ooh, that post really pissed me off (the first link). What a sanctimonious jackass! Everyone go make a comment!!
Wasn't the reason rally not just for atheists, but for believers who are reasonable and also believe in evolution & science, or believers who support separation of church and state? Maybe I'm wrong, and I know it was essentially for atheists, but I thought it was for some other groups as well, which might encourage them to include some coverage. I'm very surprised that no one covered it, and that's just cowardice on the networks' part. They are afraid of getting a ton of negative feedback from religious nuts, that's all it is. They quite often cover much smaller gatherings and protests on everything!
Good letter, Loren, except I really hope you corrected it to Saturday, March 24 before you sent it.
The internet at our hotel was abysmal, so we couldn't check online to see if there was any other decent coverage (I know there was none on TV that we saw). Dave Silverman and a few others saw bits of news, but it was really telling that we didn't see anything about it on the network news bits we did catch.
Ummm ... OOPS! Ah, well ... but the point remains, even if the date is off by one!
I do NOT trust corporate media, and do NOT like their spin on much of what they cover, particularly their assessments of the economy and their hypnosis on trying to convince people that an atheist is unelectable. Many founding fathers would be unelectable today if that were the case, and if we're really 18 % of the population then certainly we must have more power than they say we have.
My advise to you is to help promote RTAmerica, DemocracyNOW, Alternet.org and other alternative media that does show news from a populist viewpoint. We should support alternative media and promote news AS PRESENTED BY ALTERNATIVE MEDIA on our social websites, like twitter and facebook, to get people to read news from alternative sources.
This is one of the main commitments that I gained from the Occupy movement last year. Corporate owned media is corporate owned because they SOLD THEMSELVES to corporate interests. And a believing, religious audience is much easier to hypnotize than a non-believing one. During the Bush years, I remember that the oil cartel used apocallyptic imagery from the Bible to legitimize its wars for oil. Wars are a harder sell without irrational fears, beliefs and neuroses.
The more we discard corporate-owned media, the more people will realize the potential of the information era. Today, through facebook, twitter, etc. ANYONE can produce news, ANYONE can be a commentator and journalist, the internet has completely revolutionized and democratized access to information and to its production. Anonymous said in its message to the 1% that this is the greatest advantage that our generation has.
And so I'm not saying that we shouldn't pressure Wall-Street-owned media, but I think our main goal should really be to help the majority of people turn to populist media so that the national discourse is more honest, accurate, more people-focused and less influenced by corporate powers and interests.
Alternet has been pretty good about covering atheist news and exhibiting a secular perspective.
Nice try, Hiram, except for one thing: Not ONE Of Those Sites Had ANYTHING On The Reason Rally! I just now checked all three websites and ... NOTHING! So just because they're off-axis is supposed to make them reliable? NOT IN THIS CASE!
I would far rather get mainstream news media (which the average schlub is going to pay more attention to) to get on board with us, particularly because it's the average schlub that we have to reach, and the likelihood of their opting for alternative media is up there with the second coming.
And I should mention: I just also checked npr.org for stories and found at least THREE ... and they are among my most trusted news sources, never mind one of the most respected in the US.
I agree, Loren (though I see the post that RT America had something), we really should try to get the mainstream media to cover things like this, so that more people see it and understand that we're out here and we're normal people.
Of course, I saw the comments where people from my area (Dallas-Fort Worth) went after atheists hard because there are billboards about to go up about atheism. A mainstream station covered it (Fox 4 DFW), but they were obviously biased against it, and claimed they were "targeted at children." The newscaster was a total dick, and most of the people commenting are idiots. But at least with the billboards, and the coverage, maybe more atheists and freethinkers will find out that there's a way to meet others like them and to get involved in the groups. (The billboards are being put up by the Dallas Coalition of Reason, which is made up of several atheist, freethinker, skeptic groups.)