Archive for the ‘LGBT’ Category


October is LGBT History Month

lgbt-history

October marks LGBT History Month, started in 1994 by a Missouri high school teacher. Rodney Wilson sought out other teachers and community leaders for his effort and they chose October because school was in session and it coincided with National Coming Out Day on October 11. 

“The LGBT community is the only minority worldwide that is not taught its history at home, in public schools or religious institutions,” said Malcolm Lazin, the founder of LGBTHistoryMonth.com, which celebrates a different LGBT icon each day in October. “We have a powerful civil rights legacy filled with so many inspiring pioneers and narratives. Equality Forum is grateful to [those] who embrace teaching our history and celebrating LGBT History Month.”

Since launching the project in 2006 they’ve profiled more than 300 people. Some of the LGBT journalists they’ve featured include CNN anchor Anderson Cooper; CNN Tonight host Don Lemon; a founding editor of The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald; and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

Some of the lesser-known journalists include: 

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon – editors of The Ladder, the first lesbian magazine in the U.S.

Jack Nichols – Nichols wrote the first LGBT column, “The Homosexual Citizen,” in a mainstream publication in 1969. He, along with his partner, would later launch GAY, the first weekly gay newspaper in New York City. 

Randy Shilts the first openly gay journalist to cover LGBT issues in the mainstream press. He worked for The Advocate, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Orlando: As we report on another crisis, let’s remember our ethics, our humanity and our health

I tossed and turned all night. Maybe it was that latte macchiato I ordered that was out of character at night for me, but on two hours of sleep, I just got out of bed early Sunday morning to deal with the restlessness. And like many journalists I reached for the phone that charged overnight.

My mouth dropped!

It happened again. Another mass shooting, but this was different. The number was so high. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around that number: 50. Could that be right? I had to turn on my TV, and I was paralyzed in front of that screen all morning long.

I know this has become commonplace for our nation, but it shouldn’t, and this was the worst.

My experience with a mass shooting doesn’t compare in scope, but in 1999, only months after the Columbine shooting in Colorado, a gunman entered a church in Fort Worth, Texas and took the lives of seven people, then killed himself. I covered that story for days on end, as a radio reporter. I was even filing reports for the BBC.

Honoring the shooting victims from September 1999 in Fort Worth, TX (Sandra Gonzalez)

Honoring the shooting victims from September 1999 in Fort Worth, TX
(Sandra Gonzalez)

17 years later, feels like yesterday, as I see reporters reflect their thoughts, now on social media.

I am proud of so many of my colleagues for their compassion, humanity and professionalism as they are thrust into this chaos.

Hate is hate, whether it is directed at religion, or at sexual orientation. Now so many lives are lost, and a city is devastated. Our nation is devastated.

In fact, I’m devastated. Not only do I belong to the Society of the Professional Journalists, I am a member of the National Association Hispanic Journalists. NAHJ President Mekahlo Medina released news that one of our members, Jonathan Camuy, was one of the many victims killed in the shooting spree inside the Pulse nightclub. Our organization mourns his death.

NAHJ Mourns Loss of One of its Own

It has been a rough to hear the stories, see the tears, and it hits home to me. It was ‘Latin night’ at the club. Many of these young murder victims were Latinos. Their names and faces have been grouped together on internet, scrolled down on the television screen, and my heart has just stopped while seeing the names, hearing the names, and seeing their faces.

As journalists, we will meet the families, the friends, and we will tell incredible stories, and cover so many angles from heroism, to funerals, to gun control, to terrorism, and the list will grow.

Let’s remember our ethics, our humanity, and our health as we throw our lives into another major crisis.

Here are some things to consider while covering the aftermath of the mass shooting in Orlando:
-Covering the LGBT community: an open letter from NLGJA, the Association of LGBT Journalists.

Tips for Journalists Covering Trauma by Kristen Hare

The Diversity Style Guide from the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism

Sandra Gonzalez

Sandra Gonzalez is a member of the SPJ Diversity Committee and President of the SPJ Las Vegas Chapter.

Sandra has been reporter for 26 years, currently based in Las Vegas, NV
@SandraGonzalez2  sandragonzalezthereporter@gmail.com

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Journalists visit UNLV: say embrace our own diversity

(Guest Blog by Pashtana Usufzy/UNLV SPJ President)

As president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Society of Professional Journalists, I find myself in charge of planning quite a few events. When the time came to hold our first member meeting of the spring semester, I desperately needed ideas. While clicking on every link on the SPJ website, I ran across a copy of the organization’s mission.

Hoping for ideas, I read through it.

We’d held a meeting on service a few weeks earlier, and a First Amendment discussion seemed a little intense for the first meeting. (“Here’s your pizza and soda. Now, quick, which freedoms are guaranteed by the First Amendment?) I kept scrolling down — “foster excellence … inspire successive generations … encourage diversity in journalism.”

Diversity — now that I could work with.

The topic stood out. UNLV has consistently been ranked as one of the most diverse college campuses in the country. We have students from every walk of life. We represent numerous countries, religions, ethnicities — different genders and sexual orientations. It made sense for our chapter to ask: Where’s the diversity in the local journalism field? What role does that play in the politics of the newsroom, and is our news as inclusive as it should be?

Our board members went to work. We began planning and advertising a discussion on the diversity of our community and our local news market. I invited Antonio Planas of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Chris Saldaña, a local broadcast news personality, to be our speakers.

On the day of, I was nervous. Our meeting didn’t have a huge turnout; I blamed myself for picking a Friday morning meeting date and expecting college kids to be awake. The members who were there, however, wanted to get the meeting going, and our speakers said the students deserved their attention.

We didn’t draw in a classroom full of students, but our speakers made such a tremendous impact upon the students who did attend.

Planas and Saldaña played off of each other so well. They discussed their own experiences as Hispanic journalists covering the news. They talked about missteps by reporters in covering our city’s diverse population, and they told us to embrace our own diversity and bring it to our reporting.

UNLV's SPJ Chapter had broadcast news journalist Chris Saldaña and reporter Antonio Planas visit to discuss diversity in the news.

UNLV’s SPJ Chapter had broadcast news journalist Chris Saldaña and reporter Antonio Planas visit to discuss diversity in the news.

They described efforts to make colleagues aware of potentially offensive characterizations of minorities, but they also described how important it is for all groups to participate in the discussion on diversity.

They asked each student: Who are you, and what kind of diversity do you bring to the table?

I’ll admit it: I sometimes have a hard time speaking up in a newsroom full of much more experienced writers. Saldaña and Planas assured me that my opinion could help shed light on an overlooked group. It’s better to speak up, they said, than to be embarrassed by an inaccurate story or have your news organization appear out of touch.

They emphasized that we as journalists must examine the diversity of our environment, especially in a state with such an increasingly diverse population.

As student SPJ leaders, we try to bring the lessons SPJ emphasizes to the attention of our campus. We want members to get a taste of the professional world, but we also hope they’ll discover a bit of the kind of journalist they’d like to be. Our speakers that day helped us accomplish our goal.

Our attendees stayed afterward to discuss how they felt about the panel. Our small group of students could now raise questions, share its views with others.

Most importantly, the discussion could keep going, and that meant more to us than anything.

(Pashtana Usufzy/UNLV SPJ President organized this event earlier this Spring)

 

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A Look at Unity 2012 in Las Vegas

Unity 2012

Unity 2012

What a historic UNITY Convention it was in Las Vegas! This was my fourth UNITY, but definitely my most memorable. First of all, I have to say I missed my friends from the National Association of Black Journalists. There was electricity in the air at this UNITY 2012, but NABJ’s absence was felt since they parted ways last year.

Opening night was emotional. On stage, UNITY President Joanna Hernandez said to NABJ that UNITY would “welcome you back with open arms.” While NABJ was for the most part invisible, the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association was warmly welcomed into the fold. The UNITY family however dropped the extended part of the name “Journalists of Color”.

To kick off UNITY, a plenary of journalists representing each journalism association talked about the challenges of diversity in the media from the past, present, and future of our changing industry. One guest, sports columnist LZ Granderson, both a member of NABJ and NLGJA ended up getting into a heated debate  after the event with NABJ’s President and Vice President. Granderson had told the crowd about being both gay and black that “diversity is more than skin.”

LZ Granderson and NABJ leaders

The public disagreement was just one example of the passion and the pain still stirring after the changes of UNITY following the split of NABJ and addition of NGLJA.

While UNITY has morphed in the past year, social media has changed the flavor of UNITY this time around, “tweeting” in particular. Controversy was the talk of the convention when a student UNITY reporter was told she could not “tweet” at a National Association of Hispanic Journalists board meeting. The incident made big news at the convention, putting NAHJ in the spotlight and a “tweeting” policy that was spoken but not written.

NAHJ had already been experiencing high emotion during a heated election that at times was explosive on social media especially in the presidential race. Elections results were released Friday night at the NAHJ Gala, naming Hugo Balta as the new NAHJ President. Also, SPJ Diversity Committee Vice Chairman Rebecca Aguilar was elected NAHJ Vice President of Online.

New NAHJ President, Hugo Balta

At Balta’s very first board meeting, a motion made by Aguilar to repeal the the “No Tweet” policy was passed in a 6-5 vote.

UNITY has changed as the media industry has changed trying to keep up with the public’s hunger to communicate on the web. One thing hasn’t changed though: the need to keep the pressure on for diversity in those newsrooms. I was glad to see companies were hiring, and I hope the healing process continues within UNITY, and that soon NABJ will return.

Sandra Gonzalez is a freelance digital journalist based in New Orleans, LA.  She’s also a member of the SPJ Diversity Committee and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

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Entertainment Weekly Deserves Applause for “Coming Out” Report

While five words from Anderson Cooper– “The fact is, I’m gay” — have made the headlines the last 24 hours, it’s actually the report , which sparked the e-mail exchange between the CNN Anchor and  Blogger Andrew Sullivan, that warrants a closer look.

I’m glad I picked up a copy of Entertainment Weekly last week when I saw the pictures of eight celebrities and the headline “The New Art of Coming Out.”

The Article That Started It All

The lead writer, Mark Harris, did an excellent job of explaining what goes into a celebrity’s decision to “go public” about his/her sexual orientation.

Harris and three other reporters, Melissa Maerz, Muzhat Naaren and Adam Vary, provided example after example of the struggle that some film and television stars have had with the decision, even to the point of not wanting to provide a comment for this latest story.

Until this week, I, personally, was not familiar with the term “glass closet”– a term for when one’s homosexuality was common knowledge in the entertainment industry, in the press and among gay people, but an individual never says anything specific about it.

The article places this entire discussion into some historical context, while also drawing out a key point– pop culture’s ability to shift the national mood. The timeline that appears in the print edition is awesome.

My intent in purchasing the magazine was to have students in my Race, Gender and Media class read it as part of our unit on “Sexual orientation and media.”       But, given the insights it provides, the story and the timeline that accompanies it could be a teaching tool for any journalist wanting to know how to cover gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender sources.

It goes beyond just asking “is the source’s sexual orientation relevant for the story?”

Courtesy:CNN

Anderson Cooper’s e-mail

Reaction to last week’s  Entertainment Weekly cover story and its mention of a New York Times television critic’s decision to challenge Cooper on not talking about his love life in launching his syndicated talk show was the reason Sullivan e-mailed the CNN anchor in the first place.

It’s interesting to note the New York Times critic wasn’t the only writer to reference Cooper’s lack of disclosure.  Entertainment Weekly writer Tim Stack also made reference to the same lack of disclosure (apparently now known as “the glass closet”).

“There’s no clarity, however, on whether Cooper will address the one topic many people want him to talk about: his personal life,” Stack wrote in the article published last August.

As a result of this latest special report, Cooper has addressed it directly, but also made a statement in his e-mail to Andrew Sullivan that has been under-reported

“I’ve always believed that who a reporter votes for, what religion they are, who they love, should not be something they have to discuss publicly,” Cooper wrote. “As long as a journalist shows fairness and honesty in his or her work, their private life shouldn’t matter.”

I happen to agree with that point.  But, there’s more to the e-mail that is equally important

“In a perfect world, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted,” Cooper also wrote in the same e-mail.   “I’m not an activist, but I am a human being and I don’t give that up by being a journalist.”

In many ways, like President Obama’s position on same-sex marriage was evolving,  Anderson Cooper’s position on journalists’ and public figures’ disclosure of their sexual orientation was ALSO evolving.

Thanks to Entertainment Weekly’s reporting  and Andrew Sullivan’s blog post,  we see the impact of this evolution and have learned some lessons on how to reflect this aspect diverse world in which we live.

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at The University of Alabama and past chairman of the SPJ Diversity Committee.  He’s currently a member of the SPJ National Board of Directors.

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Anderson Cooper Admits He’s Gay: Was That Important?

I’m wondering how Anderson Cooper of CNN is feeling today. Now that he has told The Daily Beast that he is gay.  Is it a pressure off his back?  I was a television reporter 27 years, and I’ve always believed in being an open book.

Why? Because I expect it from people I interview. I’m a public figure who has chosen to be on television. I don’t want people to think I have something to hide; if I put out that message, they could hide stuff from me.

I always thought Cooper didn’t admit he was gay, because he was afraid his bosses wouldn’t like it and his viewers wouldn’t be too keen about it either.  And when I kept hearing that he wanted to “keep part of his life private” I thought there is no such thing when you’re on television, especially in TV news.

Thank you Anderson Cooper for just putting it out there in The Daily Beast “The Fact Is, I’m Gay.” He says he came out because he didn’t want people to think he was ashamed or hiding something.  I hate to admit it, but that’s what I thought, that he was hiding something.

Anderson Cooper today is showing the public, especially those afraid to come out; that it’s OK to say proudly “I’m gay.”  He’s also showing others in the news business, that yes, journalists can be gay and fair at the same time.

Is he any different today than he was yesterday? No. Can he still cover gay issues fairly? Of course!  In the end, he’s a journalist; a man trusted for  his honesty and hard work.

 

Rebecca Aguilar is an Emmy award winning freelance reporter based in Dallas, TX.  She’s also the vice chair of SPJ Diversity Committee, a board member with National Association of Hispanic Journalists and SPJ-Fort Worth Chapter.

 

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