Skip to comments.New Book Guides Journalists in Reporting of Homosexual Issues
Posted on 08/29/2002 4:38:45 AM PDT by kattracks
(CNSNews.com) - News reporters will soon have access to a newly revamped stylebook to guide them in their coverage of homosexual-related stories. But critics charge that the stylebook's suggested avoidance of such terms as "lifestyle" and "sexual preference" is no way to encourage fair and accurate reporting.
"What we're trying to do is be an accurate and precise reference work on sexual orientation and gender identity," explained Chuck Small, the leader of the 10-member National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) Stylebook Task Force and deputy news editor at The News and Observer in Raleigh, N.C.
NLGJA, a 12-year-old, 1,100-member organization, released the online version of its 2002 Stylebook Supplement Tuesday, and plans a hard-copy distribution at the association's upcoming annual convention in September.
This is the "first major overhaul" of the stylebook since the original version was released in 1997, according to Small. Since then, NLGJA's mission has "expanded to be more inclusive of bisexual and transgender folk, and so the new stylebook supplement intended as well to reflect that mission."
The NLGJA hopes the new version will be used to complement leading stylebooks already being utilized by the news media.
The eight-page guide is an "authoritative resource" that "brings accurate and indispensable knowledge about the identities and current expressions that fairly characterize gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people," said Pamela Strother, NLGJA's executive director.
"In the past, you would see terms like 'admitted homosexual' [and] 'roommate' to describe gays and lesbians, which we believe is biased and not fair coverage," Strother said. "Our terminology helps journalists understand what would be most accurate and fair terminology."
Included among the 50-plus entries in the glossary is a definition for lifestyle: "an inaccurate term sometimes used to describe the lives of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. Avoid." Similarly, the guide advises journalists to avoid the use of the term "sexual preference" and instead use "sexual orientation."
"Ex-gay," the guide states, is "the movement, mostly rooted in conservative religions, that aims to change the sexual attraction of individuals from same-sex to opposite-sex."
In addition, "gay civil rights," "equal rights" and "gay rights" are all acceptable alternatives to "special rights," which the stylebook describes as the "politically charged term used by opponents of civil rights for gay people."
"Basically, we think that the purpose of having a supplement like this is to provide journalists - because we're journalists as well - [with] as much accurate, precise information as possible," Small said.
However, Reed Irvine, chairman of Accuracy in Media, questions NLGJA's claim to "accuracy and fairness," citing several items that he says were conveniently left out of the stylebook.
Missing among the 50-plus glossary entries, Irvine pointed out, were terms like "fisting," "golden showers," and "bare-backing."
"These are things that they do, which, I guess [they] prefer not to talk about in public," Irvine said.
And "conspicuously absent" from the almost 40 relevant Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT) organizations listed in the stylebook, Irvine added, is the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). "I expect the people in NAMBLA might feel hurt being omitted from this distinguished list," Irvine said.
"Quite frankly, it was never brought up," said Small when asked why NAMBLA was left off the list. He said "a whole bunch of groups" were added when the guide was updated, but NAMBLA was not one of them.
Strother said there have been "sweeping changes" in the media's portrayal of homosexuals, and attributes much of it to the use of the stylebook. Because the revamped stylebook is only currently available online, it is difficult to estimate the number of journalists using it, Strother said. However, she added that the guide has been "very useful to the industry."
"New copy editors [are] coming in from college and they've never been exposed to gay and lesbian issues," Strother continued. "So this is great for training new copy editors [and] new reporters."
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Yet for a Virginia couple to travel to Manhattan to have sex in Saint Patrick's Cathedral during Mass, on the Feast of the Assumption, no less, is considered appropriate, defensible self-expression. (Read more about both incidents here.) Sigh.
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Gratuitous 'Slander' heads-up...
ANOTHER gratuitous 'Slander' heads-up...
Oh, that's right. They have no control over their preference, right?
The Journalistic Stylebook of Homosexuality
The Current Stylebook Supplement of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association notes that the words dyke, fag, faggot, and queer, are now being reclaimed, by some homosexuals but advises that the words are still considered offensive when used as an epithet.
Absent from the supplement is a primary definition for heterosexual.
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