After anticipating a crowd of 500k, March for Our Lives organizers reported attendance estimated at between 800,000 and 850,000 thousand.  The media gobbled this up and headlines splashed with variations on “Largest crowd EVAH” flooded the internet.

The problem?  The real estimate, provided by an independent company, is 200,000, give or take two or three thousand.

CBS News reports:

More than 200,000 people attended the March for Our Lives demonstration in Washington D.C. on Saturday, according to Digital Design & Imaging Service Inc (DDIS). The Virginia-based firm uses a proprietary method for calculating crowd size using aerial photos.

The peak crowd size was 202,796 people, with a margin of error of 15 percent, the firm said. The crowd reached its largest size at 1 p.m., according to the company’s estimates.

The organizers put the total number of attendees at closer to 800,000. The largest single-day demonstration in U.S. history was the 2017 Women’s March, with a crowd size of 440,000 people, according to DDIS’ estimates.

That didn’t stop many media outlets from hyping the organizers’ much higher estimate.

The march’s organizers issued a press release hailing their march:  “‘March For Our Lives’ Rally In Washington, D.C. Said To Be Largest Ever In Capital’s History.”

Exceeding expectations, a huge throng of peaceful but passionate demonstrators filled the streets around the U.S. Capitol for today’s March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C. Addressed by teenage speakers from around the country who have been affected by gun violence, attendees rallied to demand legislative action.

While Washington, D.C. authorities have yet to give an official estimate, reports published by major news organizations put the crowd size at 850,000 people, which would make it the largest demonstration in the capital’s history.

The reports published by major news organizations touting this figure (or the 800k figure) all cite March for Our Lives as the source of the estimate.

USA Today’s headline blares: “March for Our Lives could be the biggest single-day protest in D.C.’s history.”  The article, however, cites the march’s organizers.

March for Our Lives organizers estimate 800,000 protesters attended the gun-control demonstration in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.

If they’re correct, the event would be the largest single-day protest in the history of the nation’s capital.

The Sun Sentinel notes its source right in the headline:  “About 800,000 converged on Washington, D.C., for March for Our Lives rally, organizers say.”

Teen Vogue does the same:  “March for Our Lives Organizers Estimate 800,000 People Attended the D.C. Rally.”

To be fair, both CBS (quoted above) and the Hill have reported the accurate numbers.

A Sunday estimate of the crowd at the “March for Our Lives” rally for gun control in Washington, D.C., on Saturday was much smaller than the crowd estimated by organizers.

Digital Design & Imaging Service Inc. estimated around 200,000 people attended the rally, CBS News reported. Organizers on Saturday estimated 800,000.

Washington, D.C., metropolitan police have yet to release their own estimates.

The respected imaging firm uses balloons to fly cameras over events in order to estimate crowd size. The service said there was a margin of error of 15 percent for their estimation. The crowd size was largest at 1 p.m., the company said.

It is clear that the march was attended by an impressive number of people.

It is also clear why the march’s organizers would want to inflate the numbers. Every march’s organizers seem to do this going back to the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan‘s 1995 “Million Man March.”

What is not clear is why some media outlets feel the need to inflate the actual (and again, impressive) numbers and tout it as (possibly) the “Largest crowd EVAH.”


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