I looked at two articles from Jan. 22, 1973, the day Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing abortion. The L.A. Times article, “Mother Knows Best,” cited an attorney, Norma Zarky who was active in changing abortion laws, different states’ abortion laws, and the Supreme Court. Weaver’s article was short compared to the NY Times article. It stated the facts and one side of the controversy. The only perspective that the article gave came from one Zarky who explained that the problem with the Abortion ruling was that states would have no control if an abortion occurred within the first three months of pregnancy, which could mean that the state would have no power to require that first trimester abortions be done in hospitals. The article said that the court’s decision could force every state to liberalize its laws on abortions.
The NY Times article, “High Court Rules Abortions Legal the First 3 Months,” by Warren Weaver, Jr., was more well rounded and in-depth. The article explained the facts and gave quotes from judges, gave the opinion of president Nixon, the opinion of Women’s rights groups, and the contrasting viewpoints of the judges.
The NYT article told which judges voted which way and seemed more balanced than the L.A. Times article.
Both articles noted that abortion was a controversial issue.
Abortion is still controversial today and is still discussed in the media.
The book, “Discovering the News,” examines the news story as being a “social form, tightly restrained by the routines of news gathering. Officials are the sources relied upon in newsgathering, therefore, “newsgathering itself constructs an image of reality which reinforces official viewpoints.”
The article from NYT gives the perspectives of officials to validate both sides of the issue. The NYT article uses objectivity as a “strategic ritual which journalist use to defend themselves against mistakes and criticism.” The NYT article uses contrasting opinions of official sources to evaluate the issue. The L.A. Times article does not do this and therefore appears less objective.
The writing style of both articles was pretty un-sensational and fact-heavy.
Much of what I see in journalism today seems to be more literary and interpretive probably because writers are trying to be more entertaining. I still see the use of objectivity as a strategic ritual to some degree today.
ABORTION RULING: MOTHER KNOWS BEST
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File); Jan 22, 1973; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Los Angeles Times (1881 - 1986)
Discovering the News, Michael Schudson