She’s asked President Obama to come for a visit, and she has bloggers on her side now.
Still, Nellie Gray — who founded the March for Life 36 years ago — pines for some meaningful attention from the press. Her marchers were to hit the streets near the Capitol on Thursday, virtually retracing the steps of an estimated 1.8 million inaugural revelers whose every move was chronicled by a crush of media just two days earlier.
Perhaps journalists are just tired.
The chances are good, however, that news organizations will not be in close attendance for the pro-life crowds. The event has not been much of a press draw over time, and this year would seem particularly bleak.
“I’m not complaining that the news people covered the inauguration so closely. It’s all right. We do have a press platform at our march, and I have seen cameras there in the past. But what we usually end up with is a story with a tiny little comment from one individual marcher,” Miss Gray said.
“What we’re more interested in is some full coverage of our life principles, and why we are out here in the middle of winter. Why do people get on buses and come here to the Mall, to talk to Congress? It would help if the press would see that as news,” she said.
Miss Gray formally invited Mr. Obama to address this year’s March for Life at high noon, advising him in a Jan. 15 letter that “unalienable rights” include “the right to life.”
She said she does not know what to expect, either from the press or the White House.
The march has support from the Family Research Council, which will be staging a “Blogs for Life” conference in the District. Among those featured will be Republican lawmakers Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.
“Our main intent is to bring pro-life bloggers together to talk over strategies, whether it’s through legislative means or new media, which can advance those issues which are just not getting good press coverage,” said Jared Bridges, the council’s director of online communications and one of the organizers.
“Some of these bloggers are pretty fierce about pro-life issues. It’s all they write about. They’re a determined bunch,” Mr. Bridges said.
Miss Gray had no predictions about how many would march on Thursday, although the event has consistently drawn about 250,000 participants since 2003. About 16,000 Catholic college students were planning to attend — according to the Catholic News Service — including the entire student body of Magdalen College in New Hampshire.
“Anyone climbing on a bus from somewhere else, thinking they’re going to wave into a network news camera, is going to be very disappointed. In the last 20 years, despite large annual crowds, the liberal manufacturers of TV have simply never found the March for Life to be the slightest bit newsworthy,” said Tim Graham of the Media Research Center, drawing a comparison to a liberal antiwar activist.
“Everyone knows that a single Cindy Sheehan in the summer seems to be worth more than 20,000 pro-lifers in January.”