Press release journalism

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The Chron‘s Lori Rodriguez decided to help out a newly formed local activist group by publicizing an upcoming protest event the group is trying to put together:

A coalition of community leaders, grass-roots groups and elected officials will march through downtown Houston on March 24 to protest Bush administration policies they say hurt the working poor.

The newly formed Coalition for Working Class Americans wants residents of all backgrounds to join them in the demonstration that will culminate with a City Hall rally aimed at showing concern for economically squeezed Americans.

“We have assembled to express our gross dissatisfaction with the country’s growing insensitivity to the enormous burden that our nation’s economic policies continues to place on those who can least afford it,” said Bishop James Dixon II of Community of Faith Church on Pinemont, where the coalition announced its plans.

The march will take place against a backdrop of heated, partisan debate about the president’s proposed budget, which contains cuts to social services including Head Start and workfare programs.

A proposed increase in minimum wage also is generating a political tug-of-war.

Organizers hope to draw as many as 1,000 marchers.

Among participants in the coalition are the Harris County AFL-CIO, the Houston Area Urban League and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

Apparently that qualifies as a news story. One that required using local news-gathering resources.

Do you think if a right-of-center group sent a press release to the Chron announcing an upcoming protest, the same resources would be devoted to covering the announcement at all, let alone so uncritically? Of course, the answer is no.


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Anne Linehan is a co-founder of blogHOUSTON.