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General News    H4'ed 4/6/11

Local Media Covered Monday Union Rallies; National Media Not So Much

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Union members and their progressive supporters staged rallies and events across the country on Monday to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination in Memphis, where the civil rights leader was helping local union workers organize.  

Activists claimed to have hosted "more than 1,200 events -- teach-ins, vigils, faith services and town halls" Monday, but most national news media outlets ignored the story

There was no one, single huge rally that featured tens of thousands of supporters. Instead, the events were spread out from coast to coast and drew crowds in the hundreds and low thousands. But that kind of grassroots turnout shouldn't have precluded coverage, considering the Beltway press showered attention on last week's Tea Party event that drew "dozens" of supporters to Washington, D.C. 

In terms of the news pages for national newspapers, USA Today and the Washington Post ignored the King-inspired rallies, according to a Nexis search. The Wall Street Journal's print edition today also contained no mention, while the New York Times devoted 400 words to the union story.

On television, it was difficult to find many mentions of the pro-union events that commemorated the death of King, let alone catch any live reports. Glenn Beck did mention the rallies, but only to deride them as hot beds of socialist/communist activity. 

Where the national press dropped the ball yesterday, the local press did a better job reporting on events in their community, as reports came in from all over the country yesterday. 

From Oakland: 

Thousands of Union Workers Protest Labor Backlash

Madison, WI.: 

Several thousand turn out for Capitol rally commemorating MLK assassination

Duluth, MN.: 

Duluth rally held to support workers' rights

Saginaw, MI.: 

Saginaw unions send a message at Monday's rally: 'We Are One' 

Salt Lake City

Utah rally advances 'We Are One' events supporting labor and civil rights on Monday

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Eric Boehlert is the author of Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush (Free Press, 2006). He worked for five years as a senior writer for, where he wrote extensively about media and politics. Prior to that, he worked as a (more...)

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