Saturday marked the second annual Women’s March, held in nearly every major US city and hundreds of small towns across the country. By Monday, the event was scrubbed from news pages as the media’s collective focus fixated on the government shutdown. But the Women’s March remains potent and should not be overlooked. Millions of people don’t usually go marching in January because they feel things are going really well in the world. When protests take across the country, significant change follows sooner or later.
What is the Women’s March?
The first Women’s March took place on January 21st, 2017, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. The march was organized to reject how women have been treated in nearly every sector of society: in professional settings, in media portrayals, in the words of Donald Trump…
Washington DC was the main site, but hundreds of other marches formed across the world – many of them impromptu. The Washington Post estimated that turnout totaled between 3.2 – 5.2 million people across 653 marches in the US, and an additional ~300,000 people marching in 261 foreign locations.
Since then, Donald Trump has become more unpopular, the #MeToo movement has raised awareness on a continuous basis, and attitudes are changing.
Women’s March 2.0 would be a valid bellwether in determining whether the movement’s enthusiasm was fading or not. That would be topical for any national news source to report on, right?
On Monday, here were the total number of homepage articles on the Women’s March:
Washington Post: Zero
Fox News: Two
New York Times: One
Fox and the New York Times both buried their coverage.
The New York Times only included a 2-minute video on the march.
This is unfortunate because the Times ran a really nice piece the day before. They showcased the many faces of attendees and their reasons for being there. This is one of the most effective ways to cover such a diverse movement.
Fox News ran two stories, both negative.
The video on the left is a 5-minute clip attacking CBS/NBC/ABC for spending a total of 6 minutes and 40 seconds on the Women’s March, and just 2 minutes and 6 seconds on the March for Life.
Is the slight coverage a sign that the Women’s movement is fizzling out?
There is a lot of irony in the fact that women protest being overlooked and silenced and then major media sources go on to silence (CNN) or attack them (Fox). But the march is difficult for major news outlets to cover because it is a movement. By its very nature, the Womens March/MeToo is diverse, decentralized organizationally and geographically, and diffused across sectors and causes. Going to Lindsey Graham for a quote on Stephen Miller is much easier than tackling this.
Vanity Fair stepped up to attempt to answer the question of whether enthusiasm was fading or not. Estimates will continue to come in over the coming days, but Vanity Fair tallied major cities:
Washington DC: Less than 500,000 (500,000 in 2017)
New York City: 200,000
Chicago: 300,000 (250,000 in 2017)
Los Angeles: 500,000 (750,000 in 2017)
San Francisco: 100,000 (100,000 in 2017)
Richmond, VA: 1,000
That’s over a million before including other major cities like Seattle (“Tens of thousands”), Denver (150,000), Austin (“Thousands”), Columbus (3,000), Philadelphia (“Tens of thousands”), and Houston (“Thousands”).
Consider that the planning for this year’s event encouraged more local events versus travelling to DC.
So, is enthusiasm fading?
We counted to over a million people by just looking at a dozen cities. Overall numbers are probably down compared to last year’s seminal event.
But take into account the context this year. This year’s march is also not a standalone event. FiveThirtyEight did a polling analysis on how negative opinions of Trump have grown across all demographics over the last 12 months, but especially among women. In just the last two weeks, there were protests at the Golden Globes, new reports on Trump’s affair with a pornstar emerged, and Aziz Ansari became the focal point of a debate over the parameters of sexual assault. All of these were headline stories in a very compressed time period.
What can I do?
The Women’s March 2.0 was underreported. If you are supportive of the cause, you can take action to compensate for that. If you are not a fan of the Women’s March, you can bury it by ignoring it.
Share your experience on social media – Tweet photos, share on Facebook, let friends/colleagues know you spent Saturday outside
Write a letter to the editor – Especially if you were part of a smaller event. If you live in a town of 25,000 people and there were a dozen of you with signs in front of Town Hall, then a Letter to the Editor is the quickest means to alerting the other 24,988 people in town that there is action happening nearby.
Visit WomensMarch.com for more actions – Women’s March has focused on legislative issues over the year to harness passion. Check to see how they follow up on the March in the coming days.