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Tuesday, May 02, 2006


May 1 boycott

Three followup points on yesterday's demonstrations. The first is the press coverage. The San Jose Mercury News, located where a demonstration occured, gave it extensive and front page coverage, and no doubt that was true in other cities with the largest demonstrations. But on a day when more than a million people demonstrated nationwide, USA Today, a paper whose very name proclaims it is the paper of the nation, couldn't find room for the story on its front page. Others emphasized the negative, like the article in the Washington Post headlined "At Immigrant Rally, Divided They Stand - Call for Work Boycott Breeds Disagreement." Still others minimized the economic effect of the boycott, making absurd statements like this one leading the second paragraph of The New York Times story: "The demonstrations did not bring the nation to a halt as planned by some organizers." On the broadcast media, the most notable thing was how quickly this story disappeared from the rotation. I have seen several items today about immigration as an issue, but despite the fact that plenty of good, interesting footage is available (compare it to, say, the "Duke rape story," about which for all intents and purposes no footage is available), I don't believe I've seen a single shot of a demonstration today on any channel.

The second followup point, which is also about the press coverage in a way, is to note that there is no way at this time to know the complete extent of what happened yesterday. San Jose appears to have been the third largest demonstration in the country (I was mistaken yesterday saying San Francisco was larger), yet outside of the San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle, I haven't seen footage of nor read about that demonstration anywhere. But demonstrations didn't just occur in large cities. Here's an article about a demonstration of 5,000 in the upstate New York town of Newburgh, population just 29,000 (36% Hispanic)! How many more demonstrations like that occured which flew under the national radar?

The third point is relevant to these first two, and it's also completely self-evident yet perhaps the most important point of all - yesterday was a work day!!! Most of those million-plus people demonstrated on a day that wasn't a holiday or a weekend, during work hours!!! There have been days on which more people demonstrated in this country (e.g., against the Vietnam war), but I doubt there has ever been anything close to this number of people taking off work to demonstrate on any issue. Not one news source that I have read or seen explicitly mentioned this point.

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