Covering LGBT Pride in Utah

As we enter LGBT pride month, journalists will be faced with the inevitable question of how to bring something new to an event that happens–in many places–every year.

Reporters in Salt Lake City got a lot of help this year when 300 members of the  Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints participated in the march as an act of reconciliation.  The people, members of Mormons Building Bridges, participated in the march for the first time.  Here’s how the Salt Lake City Tribune covered the story.

Later, parade Grand Marshal Dustin Lance Black, tweeted: “In tears. Over 300 straight, active Mormons showed up to march with me at the Utah Pride parade in support of LGBT people.”

Mormons Building Bridges followed right behind Black in the parade. The men in beige suits and ties and the little girls in white dresses were a sharp contrast to the pounding music and dancers behind them, but the crowd clapped and shouted their approval for the folks in their Sunday best. Erika Munson, a mom of five from Sandy, started the group a few weeks ago to show her support for the LGBT community and to encourage members of her religion to do the same in a public way.

Holly Nelson, a 38-year-old lesbian who lives in Murray, had tears in their eyes as the Mormons walked past.

“I think it’s amazing,” she said. “It’s been so hard to be in Utah knowing the Mormon church is against the gay community.”

The march was also covered by the Deseret Times, which is operated by a for-profit enterprise connected to the LDS church.

Kim Turner said she was a little nervous about what kind of reaction the group would get in the parade because the LDS Church supports traditional marriage between a man and a woman, and the church encouraged members to support Proposition 8 in California defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

“We thought there might be some animosity toward us, but it was the opposite,” she said. “It was so touching. It was very emotional. We saw many people crying along the (parade) route.”

She, too, was in tears for most of the parade.

“It was so touching walking along and having people tell us ‘thank you’ when it was our pleasure,” she said. “This was a labor of love, nothing more than that. It wasn’t about politics. It was about love.”

Both pieces do a nice job of letting LGBT people speak for themselves and providing an unusual spin on the typical gay pride event coverage.  Both stories include lots of pictures, with the Deseret News providing more pictures of the Mormon group.

The coverage has not been without its critics on the right, of course.  Terry Mattingly at the conservative religion news media blog Get Religion (which is bankrolled by Howard and Roberta Ahmanson, major financial backers of Proposition 8 in California) says the Tribune story failed to properly cover the official position of the Mormon church or speak to church leaders.  He didn’t appear to notice that the News also covered the event without any official comment from the church and only slightly more explanation of the church’s position.

But I wonder, in a the most religiously homogenous state in the country, whether the readers of a newspaper in Utah really need to have the official church position explained to them.  Both stories laid out the church’s position on same-sex marriage and gay rights, so is it really necessary to bring in a dissenting voice?  It’s interesting that neither paper found it was necessary, suggesting that the papers feel confident that their readers are well-versed in Mormon church teaching and don’t need a remedial lesson in a story which is essentially about a gay pride event.

Your thoughts?

Pride on the Homepage

Yahoo gave me my first personal email address (which I still use) and taught me how to search online. But I now almost always begin my online searches with Google (as do most people).

Despite their rivalry, I love both Yahoo and Google. And since both companies have now become players in the news business, I believe they’re fair game to discuss on this blog.

I woke up this Pride Sunday (Happy Pride everyone!), went to the Yahoo homepage as I usually do to log in to my email and couldn’t help but notice the rainbow colors on the Yahoo homepage:

They even had an LGBT fluff story on the homepage. I clicked on the Yahoo logo and was taken to a Yahoo events page dedicated to Pride:

Cool, I thought, let’s see what’s happening for Pride at Google, the leader in logo changing on their homepage for all sorts of events. I can’t wait, I thought.

Well, I saw no Pride on the Google homepage. And I’m disappointed. Just sayin’.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

NPR on Gay Pride Parades and Journalism Ethics

NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard has a new Ombdusversation on the ethics of a journalist participating in a gay pride parade.  It’s a great format that includes a number of talking heads–including NLGJA’s president David Steinberg–discussing the ethics of marching in a gay pride parade.  The issue was spurred by a question raised by NPR editor Jason DeRose.

The consensus appears to be that participating in a gay pride event is likely to be fine as long as (a) the event is not overtly political and (b) it does not conflict with your employer’s conflict of interest policy. Steinberg suggested that the proper balance would be not marching with a political cause, but instead with square dance group, your employer, or a business group.  But there is not unanimity.

Senior business editor Marilyn Geewax suggested that a journalist probably should not participate in a gay pride parade–especially where there is a hot political issue like Prop 8 in California–because of the risk of the event being perceived as too political.  NPR’s Senior VP for News Ellen Weiss added that, for NPR, she reminded journalists that anything they do personally and in public will be viewed as being done be NPR.

The short video also includes comments from NPR’s political editor Ken Rudin and the Poynter Institute’s Kelly McBride.

There’s a lot to think about in the video.  I work for an employer that values its perception as a neutral, objective news source; we don’t even take advertising.  This impacts who I give money to–nothing partisan, no groups I potentially cover as a source, no candidates for federal office–although I am not sure it would stop me from marching in a gay pride parade (although my employer does not write about general LGBT issues).

I do feel strongly about objectivity and the perception of bias, so I have similar worries about an event turning into something political.  Especially living in Washington, D.C., where everything is political, I’d be wary of attending an event that could turn political or be viewed as partisan.  Even going as a guest to a fundraiser makes me uncomfortable, despite the fact it isn’t my money.

There are definitely those who will disagree with what was said in NPR’s video.  I’d be interested in hearing how others view the issue.

Journalists Toolbox: Pride Celebrations

The NLGJA Journalists Toolbox is designed primarily to assist journalists who don’t normally cover the LGBT community.

nlgjawebsiteheaderThe advice is drawn from outside media experts and our own members who are professional journalists for both mainstream media and the LGBT press. We also offer story ideas and new ways of thinking for reporters who are experienced in covering LGBT life.

“Dig Deeper at Pride Celebrations: Story Ideas Beyond the Flashy Parade” offers tips on how journalists can improve coverage of LGBT pride events.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The drag queens and brigades of lesbian motorcyclists make flashy pictures, and they are easy to find. But dig a little deeper: You’ll find plenty of informative stories by spending more time exploring your local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

“Here are some topical ideas and issues to consider, ones that look beyond the entertainment facets of the annual Pride gatherings:

“Nonprofit support organizations usually have booths at Pride events. Find out the suicide rate among gay teens and why it is disproportionately high. Explore why domestic violence is as big a problem in the LGBT community as it is in the heterosexual community. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has been with us more than 20 years, find out how it still affects your readers/viewers.”

Click here to read the complete article.