Increasingly fair, accurate and inclusive news media coverage has played an important role in expanding public awareness and understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) lives. However, many reporters, editors and producers continue to face challenges covering these issues in a complex, often rhetorically charged climate.
Media coverage of our community has become — and continues to become — increasingly multi-dimensional, reflecting both the diversity of our community and the growing visibility of our families and our relationships. As a result, reporting that remains mired in simplistic, predictable “pro-gay”/“anti-gay” dualisms does a disservice to readers seeking information on the diversity of opinion and experience within our community. And as media coverage of the Catholic Church abuse scandal demonstrated, misinformation and misconceptions about our lives can be corrected when journalists diligently research the facts and expose the myths (such as pernicious claims that gay people are more likely to sexually abuse children) that often are used against us.
There continues to be a need for journalists to distinguish between opposing viewpoints on LGBT issues and the defamatory rhetoric that fuels prejudice and discrimination. While defamatory comments may be newsworthy, they should no longer be used simply to provide “balance” in a news story.
Unfortunately, anti-gay individuals and organizations continue to see their incendiary rhetoric and inaccurate, sensationalistic distortions of gay and lesbian lives legitimized through stories, features and profiles. Such inclusion, despite the best efforts of reporters striving for fair and accurate coverage, devalues the quality of journalism.
In an era when gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender lives increasingly intersect with mainstream media coverage of family, faith, the economy, health care, politics, sports, entertainment and a myriad of other issues, we at GLAAD are committed to providing timely and accurate resources for journalists. GLAAD believes the best news coverage allows readers, viewers and listeners to form their own conclusions based on factual information, compelling stories and appropriate context. We ask that you help give them that opportunity in your coverage of LGBT issues.