Climate protest crowd overestimated by seven times?

A climate rally attendee has complained to the Washington Post that it way over-reported the crowd size at yesterday’s climate/anti-Keystone XL rally.

Someone (name withheld awaiting disclosure permission) who claims to have attended the rally writes:

Hi Ms. Eilperin,

I was quite disappointed seeing that you repeated the absurd and inflated claims of 35,000 attendees at the climate rally on Sunday in today’s Post.

It was 5,000 tops, probably under 4,000. I was there and I did a logical estimate.

Considering that advocates of all stripes use these inflated claims to make themselves seem more important I would think that the WP would be eager to deflate these liars.

How hard would it be for the WP to make honest estimates of the count of attendees these demonstrations?

6 thoughts on “Climate protest crowd overestimated by seven times?”

  1. There is a 21 minute video of the crowd marching at this url:

    You get a good sense of the width of the crowd 6 minutes in where there is an “Occupy Wall St.” banner held by what looks like 10 people, and there are clearly other marchers on both sides of the banner, so call it 16 in a row. I count about one row passing the camera every 2 seconds. So a reasonable estimate based on this video is that the number of people passing in front of the camera is plausibly 10,000: roughly 8 people per second for 20+ minutes. The total number in attendance could certainly be larger as there were likely other marchers before starts or after it ends, but 5,000 seems too low based on this video.

  2. Were there any aerial photos taken? I heard that helicopters (Police. Press, or other) flew over the crowd. Can the Washington Post get those images through FOI or some other means???

  3. As a fellow rally attendee, I have no idea what this person is talking about. There were way over 5,000 people there. Easily. I’m a musician who plays to more than that number of people on a regular basis.

  4. Crowd estimates are at best an art. Ben Franklin once tested the possibility that a speaker, without amplification, could reach a crowd of 20,000 and he found it was plausible. But that’s not the same as actually having such a crowd.
    As WB notes above, crowd estimates have newsworthiness and political implications. That’s why the Park Service quit making them known; any number the Service released was the beginning of controversy and even legal action.
    The Tea Party crowd and Glenn Beck’s rally were both reported as relatively low and rallies like the anti-Keystone are commonly estimated high in reports, or so it seems to me. It would be instructive also to see a post-rally photo from these “environmentalists”. What condition did they leave the Mall in? The Tea Party left it as clean as the hillside in the parabel of the Loaves and Fishes.

  5. Reverend Louis Farrakhan complained about the crowd estimate at his million man march. The estimate was a large number, and the complaint was unwarranted. But Political Correction being what it is, the Park Service, or whoever did those estimates, stopped doing so.

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