Where are the Gay and Lesbian Opinion Columnists/Pundits?

While the number of openly LGBT journalists has flourished since NLGJA was formed 20 years ago, there are still some glaring holes. One is the lack of LGBT on-air reporters in television and the complete lack of LGBT anchors on the networks and cable news shows (Rachel Maddow and Jane Velez Mitchell are arguably not doing news, but instead commentary).

Another major gap is the lack of LGBT opinion columnists and pundits. With the exception of Deb Price, there are no major syndicated columnists who openly LGBT. There is a serious lack of LGBT voices on the op-ed pages of major newspapers and news websites. And openly LGBT people rarely show up as pundits on shows like Meet the Press, Face the Nation, or ABC’s This Week.

In a story for Mediate, I suggested 12 people who deserve to have a national audience. The list includes Jamie Kirchick, Jonathan Capehart, Jonathan Rauch, Andrew Sullivan, Frank Bruni, Karl Frisch, Pam Spaulding, Dan Savage, LZ Granderson, Sandip Roy, Kerry Eleveld, and Winnie Stachelberg.

While there is some racial diversity in that group, it was far from perfect.  The list also doesn’t include any transgender writers. What was surprising was the ideological variety.  There were a number of people who are ideologically center-right or even conservative.  And it didn’t require a lot of effort to find a good ideological mix.

Another challenge in compiling the list was uncertainty about whether some people were public about being LGBT.  I mentioned two situations in the story, and there’s at least one other prominent blogger whose sexual orientation was rather vague. 

But imagine if such a list were compiled 20 years ago or even 10 years ago.  It would have likely been even more difficult to come up with 12 people and the diversity of that group would have been limited.  That says something about how things are changing and why NLGJA matters and has an impact.

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3 Responses

  1. Andrew Sullivan and Dan Savage don’t have national audiences? Really? Both are professional journalists, both are bestselling authors, and both appear on cable news all the time. Not sure I see how they qualify.

  2. I agree that Savage and Sullivan have a national audience, of sorts, but the conceit of the article was that opinion writers–at this moment in journalism– have a different kind of platform than bloggers and other columnists.

    • I’d agree with that, but I also think the line between online and traditional journalism is becoming more blurred all the time.

      It’s interesting to see people like Chris Matthews bashing bloggers and online citizen journalists as “netroots” on “Hardball”, and inferring that we are automatically less credible because we aren’t drawing paychecks for what we do from a major news organization (like he does).

      What he and many haven’t yet come to understand (or perhaps “acknowledge” would be a better term for it) is that just as there’s the New York Times and the National Enquirer, so too are there online news and commentary organs that are top-quality and others that are garbage.

      I think what’s finally happening is that media consumers are getting smarter in general about where they get their media from, on or offline.

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