Newspaper Biases About the Woodstock Music and Art Fair

November 18, 2010

Library Project II

The Woodstock Music and Art Fair was an “Aquarian Exposition” that took place on a 600-acre farm in Bethel, New York from August 15 to August 18, 1969. The event was described to be “three days of peace and music” and drew a crowd of over 450,000 people[1]. Because this function drew such a large crowd, it also drew much media attention. The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Philadelphia Inquirer were three newspapers that published articles about Woodstock that had different attitudes about it based on a number of reasons such the region of America they were in, the demographics, etc.
The Philadelphia Inquirer's article “N.Y. Rock Fair Issues 'Disaster' Plea” described what was happening at Woodstock in a rather negative way. The article only mentions the bad things that took place there such as “New York State police … made 94 drug arrests”, “[a doctor] treated at least 1000 patients … suffering from unfavorable drug reaction”, and “Sanitary facilities were sparse … weed was in better supply than water.” The opinion of the author was dismissive and there was only a brief mention of what the “Rock Fair” was actually about[2]. It seemed like the article was written to warn parents about all the drug use and dangers of Woodstock so they could make sure that their children did not go. The unfavorable article could be mostly due to the fact that The Philadelphia Inquirer's target audience was largely the older generation, and it also has a history of being a more Republican publication.
The New York Times' article “200,000 Bound for Rock Festival Jam Roads Upstate” was more neutral in its description of Woodstock. The article states the facts and doesn't seem too biased either way. It remarks on “arrests made … for possession of … drugs” but it also quotes state police for saying that the people “are polite and none of them has really given us any trouble yet.” A large part of the article is about how “traffic...