Planned Parenthood strengthens its news division

Now she works for an organization that was one of her main sources. Last year, Smith left CBS to work as senior director of news content for Planned Parenthood.

Writing in “Reliable Sources” on Sunday, Smith said there were several reasons why she decided to change careers. But the more relevant reason, she said, was that her editor was no longer interested in covering abortion policies and reproductive health as a dedicated topic — a subject on which she had spent much of her time. her career to become an expert.

“I was thinking about the next steps in my career without it,” Smith said. “I was more willing to consider other options.”

Working for Planned Parenthood, part of Smith’s job is deciding how to frame coverage of reproductive health issues. For example, topics such as abortion are often treated through a political lens – sometimes overlooking the practical implications for individuals.

Smith noted that stories about Texas abortion law, for example, will almost always contain a quote from Senator Ted Cruz and reference the size and scope of similar restrictions that have been passed in other states. . But many readers just want to know if they can still make an appointment at their local Planned Parenthood.

“In this article, I promise you, [the reader’s] won’t be able to know if his appointment is made or not,” Smith said.

As a reporter for CBS, Smith said she was inundated with phone calls and messages from people concerned about their dating status after an article was published.

“Because of the way we cover abortion in the media with this national framework, often as a political story, we leave patients out of the equation,” Smith said.

Smith wants readers to come to Planned Parenthood to hear from the experts and understand what their rights are in real time.

“[Think about] cancer treatments,” Smith said. “You’d rather read Sloan Kettering’s content than a New York Times article.”

Smith’s move to Planned Parenthood was not without controversy. Two years ago, the conservative National Review newspaper called Smith Planned Parenthood Ambassador at CBS.

“They said you were impersonating a journalist and wrote articles that sounded more like press releases than news,” CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter said. “So that was the charge when you were at CBS and now you’re at Planned Parenthood.”

Smith pointed to the journalistic standards and legal scrutiny his stories were subjected to at CBS, and said his reporting today still faces rigorous scrutiny.

“I stand by every article I write,” Smith said. “I would say that by making this accusation, you are playing into the hands of the right. Anyone who breaks their rules, who is not anti-abortion, is against them.”

Covering abortion from a neutral perspective and including views from both sides of the debate automatically makes anti-abortion advocates defensive, Smith said.

“They view doctors as pro-abortion, and they view them as biased, even though they’re doctors we’re talking about,” Smith said. “So I really reject all of that criticism.”

What a post-Roe world might look like

In 2019, Smith traveled to El Salvador, where abortion has been banned since 1998. In 2020, CBS reported that more than 140 women accused of having abortions were imprisoned, even though many of them miscarried.

“When we went to El Salvador, what we saw was all of these things that these doctors and politicians warned us about were happening in real time on the ground,” Smith said.

Smith met with a doctor who said he caused patients to die because they weren’t allowed to have abortions, and another who provided them illegally and said there was no decline in demand.

But what kept Smith awake at night was talking to an imprisoned woman who hadn’t seen her family in years. The woman said she had a miscarriage.

“They wake up and they’re chained to the hospital bed and there was a police officer investigating them,” Smith said. “Doctors have told me that when they look at a patient, there is no way for them to tell the difference between an induced abortion and a spontaneous miscarriage.”

Smith said the implications of what a post-Roe world will look like aren’t just hypothetical.

“All of these things that we say could happen if abortion is outlawed, if abortion becomes illegal, they happen,” Smith said. “We have real facts that can shed light on what is happening.”

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