The Magazine

Wesley Clark, Chicago Tribune, and more.

Nov 17, 2003, Vol. 9, No. 10
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We're not yet prepared to call it a trend, but Carroll now has company in the Midwest. The Chicago Tribune's public editor, Don Wycliff, has weighed in with a November 6 column responding to reader complaints about the Tribune's one-sidedness on the abortion issue, specifically an AP story about partial-birth abortion several days before President Bush's November 5 signing of a ban on the practice.

Here are some excerpts: "What provoked the ire of . . . letter-writers were the headlines. In some editions the headline read, 'Anti-choice groups celebrate victories.' In others it was 'Anti-choice victories alarm pro-choice groups.'"

"In either case," wrote Wycliff, "the flaw was the same: The perspective of those who define the issues involved in terms of 'choice' was taken as normative, and the position of those who disagree with them and define the issues differently was characterized in 'choice' terms. The result was two headlines that couldn't have been more slanted if they had come directly from the public relations office of NARAL Pro-Choice America."

This was "not the only recent example of the difficulty the Tribune has in writing about the issue of abortion or, if you will, 'life' or 'choice.'

"On Sept. 7, there was the publication . . . of a letter from Bill Beckman, executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee, in which each of his uses of 'pro-life' was changed to 'anti-abortion,' to conform to the Tribune stylebook proscription against use of the term pro-life. Happily, editor Ann Marie Lipinski has since decided that that rule need not be applied to letters to the editor."

Wiggles Revisited

Our recitation last week of the good works of Chief Wiggles--the pseudonymous Utah national guardsman in the 141st military intelligence battalion who started a toy drive for Iraqi children--moved several readers to make detailed inquiries about how they could contribute. Full information can be found at the website of the non-profit www.operationgive.org. For those not yet online, toys and useful items like school supplies can be sent directly to Operation Give Warehouse, 7155 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia, MD 21046.