Public Editor

June 18, 2013

Covering the protests at Kris Kobach’s house

Readers have been watching coverage of a protest at the home of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach carefully. But no two people see things the same way.
The biggest topic of discussion among readers I’m hearing from right now is coverage of a protest at the home of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach

over the weekend.

A crowd estimated at 200 - 300 people showed up at Kobach’s house to protest his support of legislation aimed at reducing illegal immigration. Kobach and his family were not home at the time.

I understand why it’s a hot-button issue for a lot of people. Kobach is a polarizing figure, as is the topic of illegal immigration itself.

But what I’m hearing about the coverage largely isn’t really about how the news has been reported. Rather, this is one of those subjects that often serve as kind of a proxy for readers’ opinions. I haven’t been able to identify any common threads in how people perceive the coverage.

For example, one emailer asked if the people who went to the house should be called “protesters” or “demonstrators.” I suppose there is a shade of difference between the two words, but I doubt any two people would be able to agree exactly what it is. (That’s in the context of this particular event, which was definitely a protest. That’s still a demonstration, though in reference to a gathering of people supporting a person or cause, the reverse wouldn’t be true.) In my own writing, I use them interchangeably often.

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