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March for Science – media reaction and coverage

by AprilSix Proof

More than one hundred thousand people around the world took to the streets on 22 April (Earth Day) for what Nature believed was “probably the largest-ever demonstration in support of scientific research and evidence-based policymaking”.

March for Science saw demonstrations in more than 600 cities around the globe, with the main march in Washington attracting an estimated 70,000 people.

The series of demonstrations was arranged following the inauguration of US President Donald Trump in January, in response to widespread concern about his administration’s attitude towards science and threats to cut funding for agencies funding research.

The events were widely covered across the media, as a cursory search of Google news will attest, instantly delivering more than 6,900,000 results. Key media outlets covered the events more than once, but were the articles generally favourable?

Well, in most cases, yes. The Guardian covered the March for Science through a range of articles. One story covered opinions from marchers attending various events, from London to South Korea, New Zealand to Switzerland, and asked them why they chose to join. Another article focused on calls from those attending the protests for action to be taken on climate change and a third,  looked at the March and its aim of restoring reason to politics. A fourth Guardian article focused on the London March, including celebrities who joined, like Dr Who actor Peter Capaldi.

The Independent ran three stories on the events, one including the eye-catching headline: “Scientists hate Donald Trump so much they marched against him in the Antarctic tundra.” The BBC covered the marches in London and Washington, with a third news piece on the global series of events. Sky News covered the March without questioning the views of those in attendance or offering a dissenting voice, as did ITV News.

Even the Daily Mail, a publication that has been accused of publishing its own fake news in the past, covered the March over two light-hearted articles, examining the humour behind the signs carried at the demos. Another title towards the right of the media spectrum, the Daily Telegraph, covered the march through both a picture story and a news story (taken from Associated Press).

So most media in the UK at least were either neutral or positive towards the demonstrations, with the exception of Spiked, which ran the article Five reasons the March for Science was a dumb idea.”

However, some US broadcasters were accused of using the March to give climate change deniers a platform to project falsehoods under the guise of trying to show balance. The Mediamatters blog in the US looks at this is more detail. For a more international analysis Science magazine in the US has looked at how the media coverage of the various marches was reflected around the world.