News and Observer on Moral Monday numbers - 1993 all over again?

The News and Observer has a cover story on estimates of the numbers of protestors at the recent Moral March on Raleigh.

Peter Anlyan, a consultant who produced an estimate for the orgnizers, put the number at 70,000 to 80,000. Anlyan goes into detail about how he "guesstimated" the crowd, checking with Raleigh police about turnout and capacity for the area for other events, like First Night on Fayetteville Street.

The News and Observer sent photos of the event to a National Park Service statistician, Butch Street, who worked on numbers for Obama's 2008 Inaguaration and the 1995 Million Man March. They also consulted Stephen Doig, a journalism professor at Arizona State University.

Street's estimate - 15,000 - 20,000. Doig - 14,000 to 15,000.

The News and Observer was rather vague about how Street and Doig came up with their numbers.

This reminds me of the big debate two decades ago for numbers at the LGBT 1993 March on Washington.

Organizers of that event placed the number close to one million and the number was backed up by Capitol police, who estimated the crowd at between 800,000 and one million. The National Park Service received so much criticism for their estimate of the crowd - 300,000 attendees - that they stopped providing counts at events for some time.

I'd encourage the News and Observer to check out this reprint of a 1993 article from the Washington Blade about that event. They estimated the crowd at 800,000 and went into great detail about the method they used to derive their numbers.

It's curious that the factor of difference between the estimates for Moral Monday (20,000 versus 80,000) is similar to the difference in estimates of the 1993 MOW (300,000 versus 800,000).

Perhaps the News and Record could do us all a favor here by providing a web-only feature where both of their experts give a detailed account of how they came up with the numbers and high-resolution downloadable copies of the photos they used for their work.

Estimating crowds is an inexact science. Offering up more information about the methodology used and the evidence given the experts would let News and Observer readers make up their own mind.

The two experts cited for the News and Records numbers may be honest and know what they're doing, but there's no way to evaluate what they have to say without some more context. We all know how easy it is for the media to hand off complex analysis to experts without giving readers detailed information and background for an in-depth discussion of the story - the News and Observer's unquestioning reliance on quotes and data from Civitas and related Pope stinktanks over the years is good enough reason to really dig a little deeper here.

Are the News and Record experts working with full information about the venue and images that give them a full picture of the event? Are they using methods similar to those used by the National Park Service at the 1993 March on Washington?

Personally, whether it's 20,000 or 80,000 that showed up in Raleigh really doesn't matter - what will make a difference is how many North Carolina citizens show up at the polls to drive out the extremists in the legislature in the next election cycles.

BTW, there's a start-up opportunity for some of the research scientists around the Triangle to come up with more exact methods for documenting and counting large crowds and providing unbiased consulting to groups and news outlets.

Comments

I wasn't there, but I followed

the event as much as possible on social media. I know several folks (including Greg Flynn if I remember correctly) were waiting to move forward in the march for a couple of hours, and that probably wouldn't have happened with only 20,000 or so people.

I counted every dang one including the Cops, Repubs and the

Answer is 9217 Humans, 4 Dogs, 15 Cats, 42 Homeless Peoples, 6 MainStream Corporate Media Persons or Reporters, 14 Mainstream Corporate TV Cams Workers, 6 Republican Undercover Operatives From the State HQ located on the South Parking Deck Level Red 3, dress as Crossdressing Dancers from the Gold Club in Cary, 46 FBI personal, 308 NSA personal and Governor Art Pope dress as a Jesus Freak holding a sign that said " The Lord is coming you are all doom to Hell"

Great Quote of the 17 th Century .. " It not the number of Patriots in the fight, but the number of Cannons and Muskets that work to get the King Attention." * Tom Paine

Update On Food Trucks?

Those were not Food Truck but were Mobile Potty Johns with Humans inside of them..This is the 21 st century and standard Potty Johns are stationary and can be used for Barricades against the Ukraine Police by the Ukraine Nazi's. which makes a really messy riot in the end..