What is Philly media’s problem with the Slutwalk? A history of coverage (or lack thereof)

By Joshua Albert

On Saturday September 27th around 1000 people marched through the streets of Philadelphia to call for the end of rape culture. Police could even be seen leaning on cars, joking around, appearing to not have a worry in the world about the soon to happen demonstration. You probably didn’t hear about it. Because Philadelphia media that day failed to do its job.

On the day of the march, which was announced and widely reported in advance by organizers and local news outlets, the only visible media present was The Declaration – we covered the event last year as well – with three reporters on scene. CBS/KYW  “popped in and out,” according to Christie Eastburn, one of the event organizers.

Philly.com/Daily News has never been present during the protest, and neither has the local Fox affiliate, FOX29. Other outlets like 6abc and Newsworks covered the first march (then called SlutWalk)  back in 2011, but have been absent at every march since , where numbers have increased significantly each year. Metro Philly, which recently acquired the alt weekly City Paper,  has never covered the event in Philadelphia at all, and nor  has The Philadelphia Tribune.

 A local journalist who agreed to share her thoughts on the matter said:
“Seems to me that drop-off exemplifies most news’ outlets interest not in comforting the afflicted/afflicting the comfortable but in prefab “controversy” presented by the Slutwalk title–the controversy, or at least provocative idea, being whether women sometimes deserved to be raped or not. In general most news media dismisses issues disproportionately affecting women unless there’s a controversial component involved, as the idea that women in the USA in 2014 are routinely violently attacked with little to no recourse isn’t controversial enough.”
 This article is a comprehensive breakdown of this event, showing what each outlet has covered about this protest in the past, what stories they covered on the day of the march, and examples of coverage of similar demonstrations.
Here is a list of every media outlet sent information by the event organizers prior to the march. All were also sent photos and information after the march:
Publication:
City Paper
Philadephia Inquirer
Philadephia Inquirer
Philly.com
Phila Daily News
Metro
Philadelphia Tribune
Philadelphia Weekly
Philadelphia Weekly
Philadelphia Magazine
Fox News
Fox News
NBC 10
6 ABC
Philadelphia Gay News
West Philly Local News
PHL 17
Philebrity
Uwishunew
El Dia
Rad Girls
Geekadelphia
Phillyfunguide
Northeast Times (Broad Street Media)
Delco Times
Lancaster Online
Lancaster Online
Intellegencer, The
Newark Star Ledger
Times of Trenton, The
Jersey Journal
South Jersey Times
Erie Times
Daily Local News, West Chester
News Journal/DE Online
News Journal/DE Online
Delaware Scene
Montgomery Media
Montgomery Media
Ambler Gazette
Times Herald, The
Reporter, The
Kennette Paper
Times of Chester County
Times News, Beaver Co
Bloomsburg University
Bucks Co Courier
Chestnut Hill Local
Sharon Herald, The
Morning Call, The
Morning Call, The
Phoenixville Village News
Pocono Record, The
Press and Journal
Scranton Times Tribune, The
UD Review
UD Review
Daily Collegian, The (Penn State)
NewsWorks (WHYY)
WHYY

 

List of actual coverage:

10/1/14 (The Signal – College of NJ Newspaper) http://www.tcnjsignal.net/2014/10/01/elephant-in-the-room-why-i-dressed-up-as-thor-for-phillys-march-to-end-rape-culture/

9/29/14 (Philebrity)http://www.philebrity.com/2014/09/29/over-1000-attend-march-to-end-rape-culture/

9/28/14 (The Daily Pennsylvanian – UPENN)http://www.thedp.com/article/2014/09/march-to-rape-culture-2014-slutwalk

9/28/14 (Philly Declaration)https://phillydeclaration.org/2014/09/28/march-to-end-rape-culture-takes-the-streets-of-center-city-2/

9/27/14 (CBS/KYW)http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2014/09/27/large-crowd-gathers-for-march-to-end-rape-culture/

9/27/14 (Queer 2 the T podcast)http://queer2thet.blogspot.com/2014/09/episode-138-end-rape-culture.html

9/26/14 (KWY/CBS – radio and article)http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2014/09/26/organizers-make-final-preps-on-march-to-end-rape-culture/

9/25/14 (Philly Now/PW)http://phillynow.com/2014/09/25/rally-wrap-up-why-i-will-join-the-march-to-end-rape-culture/

9/23/14 (Philly Mag)http://www.phillymag.com/news/2014/09/23/problem-renaming-slutwalk-philadelphia-march-to-end-rape-culture

9/19/14 (Generocity)http://www.generocity.org/march-to-end-rape-culture-broadens-message-with-name-change/

9/16/14 (Philebrity)http://www.philebrity.com/2014/09/16/march-to-end-rape-culture-in-philadelphia-sept-27th/

9/24/14 (South Philly Review)http://www.southphillyreview.com/news/cover-story/South_Philadelphians_plan_to_end_rape_culture-273944591.html

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Some outlets listed above, for example The Pocono Record,  would not be expected to cover a demonstration in Center City Philadelphia. This article looks at media outlets for whom the march might be found in their regular beat.

 6abc

Have they covered it in the past?

I threw in both “slutwalk” and “march to end rape culture” in the 6abc site’s search bar. They covered the event when it first launched back in 2011, and that’s been it.

search results 1-6abc

 

What stories were they doing that day instead?

6abc that day 2 6abc that day 4 6abc that day1 that day 3

 

ABC did not respond to request for comment.

NBC Philly

I did the same thing, entered in the search terms “slutwalk” and “march to end rape culture” into the sites search bar with similar results. They covered the event the first year it was held, but again, have not covered it since.

past coverage nbc

 

What were they covering that day instead? (including editors picks)

that day 2nbc that day nbc1

that day 3 nbc

 

NBC Philly did not reply to my request for comment.

FOX 29

Again, same search terms, same lack of coverage.

past coverage foxNote that Dom Giordano and CBS decided to call this a “craze.” He also defended the Toronto police chief’s comments which sparked the two women to start the very first Slutwalk protest. And he said “maybe we can tie it in to that Naked Bike Ride thing.”  You can listen to it here,  it starts at about the 14 minute mark.

Fox 29 did not reply to my request for comment.

craze

What did Fox29 cover that day instead?

fox that day 1 fox that day 2

 

 Philly.com/Daily News/ Inquirer 

philly.com1 philly.com2

 

What were they covering instead?

that day 23 that day22 thatday21

 

Philly.com and The Daily News did not reply to my request for comment.

Metro Philadelphia 

Metro Philadelphia has not done any coverage of either slutwalk or the march to end rape culture. They also did not return request for comment. The stories they covered that day were equally as unpalatable as some of the other stories above.

CBS/KYW Philadelphia

They were the biggest media outlet in Philadelphia to cover the event. They were not there for the event’s entirety, and the coverage they did was  arguably bad. Maybe they could have gotten quotes from people other than the event’s organizers?

CBS

Newsworks/WHYY

Past coverage:

newsworks 1 newsworks2 whyy 1 whyy 2

Newsworks did not reply to my request for comment.

What they were covering that day instead.

I will note though I don’t think the stories they chose to do that day are bad, I generally enjoy this news outlet.

newsworksthatday

 

The Philadelphia Tribune has never covered the march, nor did they reply to my request for comment.

tribune 1 tribune 2

Citypaper has done an abysmal job covering the protest as well, and did not reply to my request for comment.

citypaper

 

 

Philebrity has covered this event essentially every year since it’s beginning. They aggregated the CBS story which is the most to expect from them. They don’t typically send individuals to events for field reporting.

Philly Mag did an article leading up to the event. They also were one of the few outlets to get back to my request for comment. Brian Howard, the news editor had had the following to say:

“We wrote about the march in advance, and re-promoted it again on social media the day of the event.What we cover and how is always a balance between reader/editorial interest and reporting resources.”

 

Philadelphia Weekly also did an article leading up to the event. PW also responded to my request for comment, essentially saying the same thing as Philly Mag. 

Stephen Segal, said:

“Once again, as I said: We don’t report day-after-the-fact stories about the vast majority of events happening in the city. Sometimes our writers report back from an event the next day. Usually, they opt for the longer and more thoughtful view. If you would like to express your opinion that PW should have written about the March to End Rape Culture differently from the way in which we in fact did, then I will look forward to reading that opinion.”

Since they already had someone there, why not follow up with a small post with photos? It’s one thing to not send someone there because of lack of resources, it’s another to have someone there and not ask them to do a follow up.

 

Coverage in Philadelphia media of similar, but less well-attended, demonstrations:

NBC Philadelphia
Activists Arrested in Philly Over XL Oil Pipeline Protest.
Protesters run around school district HQ
Turn up for truth: Philly teachers protest.  
UDel Students protest school’s sexual harassment policy. 
Atlantic City casino workers block traffic to protest givebacks. 
Fox29
Temple University Protest Non-Renewal Of Professor Contract
Cheltenham high school student’s protest new rules with sit in. 
Moment of silence held for victims of police brutality. 

Philly.com/Daily News
Philly Mag
ABC Philly
City Paper
And interestingly enough:
Philadelphia Weekly
Newsworks/WHYY

—-

It is completely unfathomable to me that this protest was not covered. Maybe advertisers don’t like seeing women taking back a word and way of thinking that has been used to demean and condemn them for centuries? Maybe it’s because news media is a male dominated world?  Anytime 1000 people decide to protest and march, for whatever reason,  it would seem to be news.

 

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