By Elizabeth O’Brien
NEW YORK, June 14, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The New York Daily News (NYDN), the sixth largest newspaper in the United States, uses a set of writer guidelines that favor abortion through choice of language.
The paper’s writing requirements promote an anti-life mindset by instructing writers to avoid certain words when dealing with the abortion issue. The words “pro-life” and “pro-lifers”, for example, must be replaced with ‘abortion foes”, “abortion opponents” or in the case of constricted title space, “abort foes”. The positive terms “pro-life” and “pro-lifers” may be used only within direct quotations.
On the other hand, when describing someone who supports abortion as a woman’s right, writers must choose positive terms, such as “abortion rights activist”, “pro-abortion rights” or “pro-choice”. The term “pro-abortion” must be avoided.
The biased position is even clearer in the guidelines that counsel writers how to speak about a pregnant woman. According to NYDN guidelines, a writer must omit “when the life of the mother is at stake”. In such phrases, NYDN writers must replace “mother” with “woman”.
Similarly, the term “unborn child” is not permitted. Rather, it must always be referred to as a “fetus”.
“Abortion clinic”, however, is acceptable.
Ironically, the guidelines finish, “Columnists have free rein in choosing their own terms to describe the issue.”
The NYDN writing requirements are similar to the Associated Press (AP) writing guidelines. The AP outlines that writers should use “anti-abortion” and avoid “pro-life” and replace “pro-abortion” or “pro-choice” with “abortion rights”.
Leon H. Wolf, the senior editor of RedState.org, criticized the AP for these restrictions and describes the effects of such “minor” language changes. He comments on Redstate news,”the new AP style manual does the pro-choice side a huge favor; being associated with ‘rights’ is an even greater boon than being the ‘pro’-side in a debate; the concept of ‘rights’ strikes a powerful chord in the psyche of the average American.”
Paul Tuns, Editor in Chief of the Interim, also comments on the specific choice of wording, “The term ‘pro-choice’ gets away from the issue of abortion. It prefers the language used by the abortion side, and ignores what the choice is actually about. At the same time, the so-called mainstream media sets up pro-lifers in a negative light by highlighting what they are against. Under the guise of neutrality, the media consistently tilts the issue in favor of the pro-abortion side.”
“The New York Daily New purports to be a neutral observer,” says Tuns, “yet looking at their writer’s guidelines, it is clear that they go out of their way to shield readers from the truth about abortion, about motherhood and the humanity of the child inside of her.”
LifeSiteNews.com approached The New York Daily News on the topic of its styleguide for abortion stories and spoke to Jennifer Mauer, Communications Director. After repeated calls, however, the paper failed to give any comment.
The AP and the NYDN writing restrictions are only a few examples of the mass media bias that surrounds the abortion issue. In 2000, for example, when “Bloody” Dr. Richard Neale, also known as “the Butcher”, received 37 charges for “serious professional misconduct”, many major Canadian newspapers failed to mention that he was an abortionist who had hurt or killed women during his abortions. (see https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2000/jun/00061404.html).
Similarly, this year on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, three major US television stations ignored the March for Life that brought thousands of peaceful protestors to Washington DC. NBC and CBS briefly mentioned the event while ABC remained silent. These same stations gave massive coverage to an anti-war protest that took place in the capital just six days later (see https://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2007/jan/07013104.html).
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Media Bias on Pro-Life Conference
Conspiratorial Pro-Abortion Media Bias Evident
New Vatican Document Seeks to Clarify Purposely Misleading U.N. Language
Read Leon H. Wolf’s Story about AP Bias