WHDH Boston Make Fools of Themselves about Atheist Ad Campaign

Here's the article and a link to the website, where you can also watch the newscast which aired last night:
Atheist group releases ad campaign on Boston subways:


"BOSTON -- A controversial new ad campaign hitting "The Hub" is encouraging people to "stop believing."

Ads promoting atheism are showing up on many Boston MBTA trains and some commuters are wondering if they go too far.

"It's not my viewpoint but it sounds like it's the viewpoint of others," said one man.

"Why shouldn't they have their own say?" asked another. "We get bombarded with ads for church."

The Boston Area Coalition of Reason launched the ad campaign and the posters read: "Good without God? 40 Million Americans are."

"There's been some negative reaction but really not much," said David Niose of Bostoncor.org. "Most of the reaction has been quite positive. There's a lot of secular Americans out there who are just thrilled to see a group coming forth and demonstrating that secular Americans can be good, decent citizens. And its not an identity that needs to be kept in the closet."

The group has spent $11,000 on ads on more than 200 subway cars in Boston.

The point of this Good without God campaign is to reach out to the millions of humanists, atheists, and agnostics living in the United States, said Fred Edwords, head of the United Coalition of Reason, which is sponsoring the campaign in Boston.

The group plans to launch campaigns in more than 10 other U.S. cities.

(Copyright (c) 2009 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)"

via: http://www1.whdh.com/news/articles/local/BO128171/

As I'm sure you all picked up on, there is a large, glaring factual inaccuracy in the above article, namely that the ads "encourage" people to "stop believing". Watching the story air last night, I was nearly pulling out my hair by the end due to the blatant misreporting done by the WHDH team. I got angry and wrote them a stiff letter, below. I have yet to receive a reply, but I figured I would share it with you all:

"Channel 7,
After just watching the short story aired about the Boston Coalition
of Reason's new secular ads appearing on the T, I have to say how
appalled I am at not only that you found this story newsworthy, but how
you handled it. As an atheist, I am proud and thrilled that this often
ostracized group, especially in such a Christian-centered nation, is
finally reaching out to others who may be afraid to admit their lack of
belief. It is a mobilizing effort, helping other atheists to come out of
their atheist closet and embrace who they are. However, you blatantly
aired false information about this ad campaign, claiming that it
"encourages" people to give up their faith, which it in no way does. By
stating, "Good without God? 40 million Americans are", the ads state a
fact; they do not at all say that being an atheist is better, being an
atheist makes someone smarter, or that having faith in a god or gods
makes someone less desirable. If you can falsify something as basic as
this - something as simple as clearly misrepresenting the message of 40
MILLION Americans - what else are you falsifying on your news show?
But since you seem to find this so newsworthy, I'd like to tip you
off on another MBTA ad I've seen! As a frequent rider of the orange
line, I have seen ads multiple times for the Walnut Street Gospel Hall
in Saugus, MA, part of the Assembly of God Christian group. They
encouraged me to go to their church, to let Christ Jesus into my life,
so surely you could work this into your next newscast. Isn't that
controversial? Isn't it offensive to people like me who don't believe in
God?
Well no, not really, because while I don't believe in God, I do
believe in first amendment rights. So next time, please leave well
enough alone unless you're willing to report FACTS.

Singed an angry Atheist,
Laura"

Too over the top perhaps, or just right? I just wanted to make it very clear that I was seriously pissed off by their handling of the story.

Views: 8

Comment by Danielle on October 30, 2009 at 1:59am
It never ceases to amaze me how people always take these ads as proselytizing, when they're really just trying to let people know atheists exist, and that if you're one, you're not alone.
It's the same as a billboard asking if you like cheese, other people do too, come join our club where people eat cheese together! It's not trying to get people who don't like cheese to like cheese... I will never understand the offense people take to this.
Comment by Norbury on October 30, 2009 at 2:48am
They react angrily because our existence is a threat to them, and they don't like to be reminded of that. What the ads actually say is irrelevant
Comment by Reggie on October 30, 2009 at 6:59pm
Local media is already a joke. Asking for journalistic integrity from them is like asking for a Master's thesis from a six year old. They wouldn't even know where to begin.
Comment by Wesley on October 30, 2009 at 11:33pm
I think you did it just right.
Comment by Laura on October 31, 2009 at 1:52am
Danielle: Yeah, they're just looking for a reason to get riled up and offended. The message behind the ads doesn't matter; what does is that it's evil, heretical ATHEISM *runs for the hills*.

Norbury: We are a threat, and I'm glad you pointed that out. Reactions like this just show how afraid they are of losing their privileged place in American society.

Reggie: Completely agree. I wasn't even watching the news cast for myself, I just happened to be in the room while my father had it on. Poor man had to listen to me rant on for a good 20 minutes after it aired, too, haha.

Wesley: Thank you! I wanted to both get across facts and bitch-factor, and I feel I hit that mark nicely.
Comment by Reggie on October 31, 2009 at 4:10am
I just happened to be in the room while my father had it on.

Ugh! I'm sorry to hear that. I usually have to take a long, hot shower if I accidentally see parts of a local news cast. It makes me feel dirty.
Comment by Shine on October 31, 2009 at 10:17am
Wow, the original article is totally incoherent; it initially states that the ad campaign's purpose is to encourage people to stop believing, but then later claims that the purpose is to reach out to atheists. So...by reaching out to people who already don't believe, how are people who do believe even being addressed? This is journalism? It fails to meet the standards of coherence expected in an average high school English class.

Laura, your letter to the station was perfect; you emphatically stated your case without going over the top.
Comment by Dave G on October 31, 2009 at 11:03pm
Not just local news, Reggie. The media in general has completely abandoned any idea of reporting facts, doing research, or being honest in their reporting. There may be some exceptions to that, but in general any story reported by the media has to be assumed to contain as much falsehood as truth.
Comment by Reggie on October 31, 2009 at 11:09pm
I absolutely agree, my evil twin. But local news is so much worse than national media. At least national media spends time "mis-reporting" on some relevant topics. Local media is half a step up from high school reporting and gossip columns. Hmm, come to think of it, maybe the only difference is the production value.
Comment by Dave on November 2, 2009 at 8:55am
As the one who was interviewed by WHDH, I can tell you that I never suggested that we were trying to "get people to stop believing." The subject of "getting people to stop believing" was never even brought up during the very brief interview. That comment by the anchor was a complete fabrication. It's a great example of how the media love to sensationalize atheism, portraying it as some kind of threat. Let's hope we can change that mentality.

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