Last week I attended the College Media Advisers Convention in NYC to meet with student journalists from across the country. In my work as a Media Field Strategist for GLAAD, I work with journalists every day to educate them on fair, accurate, and inclusive LGBT media coverage.
GLAAD's Young Adult Media Program works with college journalists and educates using our College Mdia Reference Guide. I presented a workshop about reporting on LGBT issues, and found that the students had great questions.
The room was full of editors-in-chief, arts and entertainment editors, copy editors, and general assignment reporters. Student journalists wanted to know which pronouns to use for transgender and genderqueer students, why "alternative lifestyle" isn't the best term, and how to ensure their coverage is well-done.
Though many of the students had either written or edited a story on LGBT folks for their campus newspapers, one had a particularly troubling story--the newspaper's adviser, a private college faculty member, had taken the newspapers' Associated Press Stylebook (which is considered to many, the "Bible of Journalists") and ripped out the pages that explained the terms "gay" and "transgender."
Though it was fantastic to hear an editor-in-chief engage us on his challenges and successes while editing a story on a genderqueer student, there fact that even one student newspaper was without the tools to fairly and accurately report on LGBT students is disheartening!
After many of the almost two dozen student journalists in the workshop gave their support for the student, I ensured she had a copy of our Media Reference Guide to take back to her campus. It includes excerpts from the AP Stylebook's pages on gay and transgender issues, so now her newsroom will have the right tools!
The students in the workshop were from private and public universities, all the way from Maine to Hawaii. Each student publication that was represented at the conference (more than 200) was given a copy of GLAAD's College Media Reference Guide. Engaging future professional journalists will help ensure their future coverage of our community is fair, accurate, and inclusive!