LGBT Leaders Speak Out on Media Coverage

An interesting post by Karl Frisch at progressive media watchdog Media Matters highlighting what various LGBT groups are saying about media coverage during Pride Month.  I think the most interesting comment came from Sharon J. Lettman, executive director of National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC):

In recent years, Black press outlets have made tremendous strides in covering lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) stories. For instance, the June Issue of Essence magazine includes a Father’s Day tribute to a Black gay couple with two adopted children. Their story is told with respect and dignity for the contributions they make to their community. In the same issue there’s a second article in which a lesbian couple talks about the values they are instilling in their children. Just a few short years ago this type of coverage did not exist.

Most of the progress that we see is at the national level. We still have some work to do in convincing regional Black press outlets that it is their journalistic responsibility to cover Black LGBT issues in ways that are both fair and inclusive by empowering them to know that their readership is much broader than their perceived conservative Christian base. Their readership also includes concerned Black LGBT people and allies who are becoming increasingly vocal about the need for positive portrayals in media about LGBT people of color.

Some of the comments underscored the tension between activists and journalists. Activists are rarely happy with the press coverage they get, in part because the journalist isn’t staying “on message” with their reporting. Of course, a journalist who is “on message” with the desire of activists probably isn’t doing a good job as a journalist.

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