April 24, 2009
Adventures in local news reporting
I’ve not made much of a secret in my offline life of my feelings for our local newspaper, the Topeka Capital-Journal: I’m not a big fan. I think it’s biased and poorly written/edited. (Check out an example that made it to the blogosphere a couple of months ago here.) As much as I’d like to support local print news, then, I tend just to ignore the CJ. Sometimes, however, it’s difficult to avoid; today while I nuked my lunch I glanced at the front page of a copy that had been left on the break room table. The top two stories focus on Governor Sebelius and the national spotlight that’s currently shining on her. It only took a few sentences for the top of my head to come flying off (emphasis added):
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ decision to veto Thursday a bill amending Kansas law on late-term abortions occurred at a critical juncture in her bid to become a Cabinet secretary in the administration of President Barack Obama.
Sebelius, who supports abortion rights but says she personally opposes the method of birth control, said the vetoed legislation likely would have been ruled unconstitutional by federal courts.
Now, maybe they’re paraphrasing words Sebelius herself used, but a cursory search makes me dubious that that’s the case. I think that sentence conflates — whether deliberately or unintentionally — abortion (the termination of a pregnancy) with contraception (the prevention of pregnancy). At best, it’s clumsy. At worst, it reflects an anti-choice bias. Either way, it frustrates me. And the thing is, I do think it’s possible to report on this issue without writing things that make my head explode (see this article from the Wichita Eagle). So — what gives, CJ?