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Pravda spacer Issue 6
Pravda - Pro-Life Times
by Richard West
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Promotional publications serve two important functions for the organisations that produce them. Firstly they speak to those within the organisation to affirm a common bond. Secondly they help define their relationship with those who are not part of the group. In commercial organisations this usually means some story about how the rest of the world is delighted and empowered by the product or service that they provide. In religious organisations by contrast this is often a chance to say that everyone else is barking up the wrong tree (or just barking).
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This 'we're right and they're evil' tendency in religious publications can make them rather one dimensional. The Pro-Life Times is a case in point and has nothing to recommend it, whether you are disposed to agree with it or not. The cover of the March '03 issue contains two stories that neatly sum up the paper's respective attitudes to us and them: a woman who decided not to kill herself appears next to the headline 'Life is so beautiful', while next door we learn 'EU compels nations to fund abortion'. This is a particularly single minded form of propaganda. Although a publisher (the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) is mentioned discretely on the back page the usual structure of editorial responsibility and debate (a letters page, opposing views) is entirely absent. The journalistic headers of 'news in brief, comment' and the cheery mug shots of writers do not disguise the fact that the whole thing is cobbled together from secondary sources with a very limited aim and few scruples about selective quotation and the value of uncorroborated opinion. Reading PLT is a supremely unenlightening experience.
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Having said this the PLT is an unusual type of paper. Since its point is to declare a narrowly defined truth rather than discover anything, the editors have only limited material to draw on. true, this truth is supposed to be global ('China's women in despair') but it must reinforce the general message that contraception, abortion and euthanasia in any form are wrong. As one writer remarks: 'pregnancy, birthrate, families. here at the Pro-Life Times office we react to such words.' Predictably the result is boring but also mildly hysterical in tone. the requirement to say the same thing again and again leads to such headlines as, 'The Shame of Red Nose Day' and best of all, 'Tiniest humans under attack in Ireland'. Compared to this the consumer relations chatter in most freesheets seems positively healthy.
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Pravda - Pro-Life Times
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