Covering Abortion

At the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, Eyal Press, who wrote a book on the 1998 murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian, offers tips for journalists covering events like the recent murder of Dr. George Tiller. Among them, a reminder that quoting “advocates or protesters with extreme views,” while “invariably colorful,” is “also utterly unrepresentative of what most Americans think, which risks making the debate about abortion seem black and white when it is anything but.” Cover, too, “the gray ‘middle,’” writes Press.

My colleague Megan reminded me of one compelling recent example of “gray ‘middle’” coverage: Back in November, the Washington Post ran a lengthy profile (and, granted, it’s easier to explore “the gray middle” in this format than, say, a breaking news story or a second-day story) of “a young medical student [as she] tries to decide if she has what it takes to join the diminishing ranks of abortion providers.” (She decides she does not.)

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.