The role of journalists is to present information as unbiased and fair as possible, avoiding discriminatory or condemning information that could establish bigotry toward a minority group. Journalism is a discipline with the purpose of providing factual information to the public in a manner that does not objectify or dehumanize a specific sect of people while establishing a neutral position where society is privileged with the right to make specific interpretations and take particular stances on an array of topics. Guided by the objective to establish unbiased information, it is pertinent that all journalists perform their duties in a manner that provides information following the diversity guidelines provided by the Society of Professional Journalists. According to Rachel Kanigel, “The Diversity Style Guide is a resource to help journalists and other media professionals cover a complex, multicultural world with accuracy, authority, and sensitivity.” Utilizing the key terms, comprehending their proper use, and verifying the accurate description of specific representations of certain people is necessary for reporting from the perspective of sensitivity to the needs of both the subjects and the audience.
One of the more popular topics of diversity and controversy is that of the LGBTQ community and the portrayal of its members. Newspapers have begun publishing civil unions and gay marriages within their marriage announcement sections, establishing that they have joined in with the LGBTQ community in accepting their way of life. Despite such information published as fact, the mere presence of such a publication establishes to society that the new publication has taken a stance on acceptance within the LGBTQ community, resulting in a societal response from consumers of the publication. Responses come in the forms of both outrage or glee. Such announcements result in the possibility that consumers who disagree with such a perspective now believe the publication is without the ability to overcome personal bias or favoritism as further stories on published.
To avoid the possibility of presenting a perspective devoid of bias and acceptance of diversity, Kelly McBride establishes that good journalism is the key element in perpetuating credibility. “The proof is in the product.,” she said. “It will be harder for readers and viewers to question credibility if, when they see stories about this issue, they see their viewpoint among those represented.” As gender is not such a simplistic binary, it is vital to understand there are several perspectives on the table willing to provide a contribution to the conversation. Similarly, enabling those who establish a perspective of confusion or distrust in the media conduit should have the right to provide their perspective without defensive backlash from the reporter. Many people simply need verification through an explanation of the newsroom’s strategy on reporting about the topic.
Additionally, members of the LGBTQ community simply desire equality. This may mean having the right to publish a marriage announcement in the newspaper or something as simple as utilizing the restroom in which they feel most comfortable. For trans people, such a title describing a multifaceted segment of individuals who are unable to fall within the binary gender description, it is demeaning to judge an individual based solely on their genitalia. Actress Laverne Cox discerns how offensive it is to judge an individual based on the GAAB, as it focuses on their anatomy rather than the person they truly are. Asking a trans person about their anatomy retracts from them as a human being as gender roles become the forefront of the conversation.
“I think it is important when we have conversations about transgender people that we do not reduce us to body parts,” Cox said in an interview on MSNBC. “We are more than the sum of our parts, and it is so deeply objectifying and dehumanizing to talk about trans people and reduce us to body parts.” Cox further establishes that her transition was to exist in public space as all trans people want to exist openly in society and thrive as human beings.
As a journalist can produce content that is often controversial, it is vital to understand the perspectives of all involved in the debate before publishing articles that could potentially become offensive to a group of people, whether they are part of a minority or not. Members of the LGBTQ community simply desire to have the same rights as all other people, without fear of violence of discrimination, so publishing content about their lives must establish a perspective of tolerance and neutrality that is representative of the community as a whole, rather than objectifying a single group.
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NCU. (2017). Diversity. Retrieved from https://www.ncu.edu/about-ncu/diversity
Ford, Z. (2014, January 21). One question journalists could ask to improve reporting on transgender people. Retrieved from https://thinkprogress.org/one-question-journalists-could-ask-to-improve-reporting-on-transgender-people-94eac26aba2d
Kanigel, R. (2017). Welcome to the Diversity Style Guide. Retrieved from http://www.diversitystyleguide.com/
McBride, K. (2004, January 23). Writing about gays and lesbians. Retrieved from https://www.poynter.org/2004/writing-about-gays-and-lesbians/20489/
MSNBC. (2017, February 23). Laverne Cox: Do Not Reduce Transgender Individuals To Body Parts | Hardball | MSNBC. [Video File}. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0gPsMtWCY