So yes, things have gotten significantly better both at the Times, which leads the industry in LGBT coverage, and in newsrooms across the country. But “better” doesn’t mean “perfect.”
The panelists noted that they are no longer as vigilant as they once were at policing LGBT coverage, in large part, said Meislin, “because the overwhelming weight of what we’re doing is on the right side of the equation.” However, he said, “we should keep holding ourselves to a higher standard. The perception now may be that it is easy to come out at work or as a teenager, but for a large swath of the country, and even for a number of people on the coasts, it ain’t so easy. There’s the assumption that ‘things get better,’ and they do and have, but that doesn’t mean you stop covering things that haven’t.”
How else can LGBT coverage be improved—not only at the Times, but elsewhere?
First, audience members pointed out, media could cover transgender and bisexual people with more frequency and make it more comfortable for bisexual and transgender people to come out in the newsroom. Second, Bruni pointed out that the Times and other outlets could do much more “mainstreaming” of gay coverage. “We do a lot of coverage of LGBT issues, but they’re in a box,” he said. Whereas, when he was at the Detroit Free Press, he said, gay people would be folded into stories on other topics beyond the real estate section.
“I read stories all the time on parenting, but I don’t see a gay parent slipped in there, not to say, ‘Here are my special challenges as a gay parent,’ but as part of the mosaic of parenthood,” Bruni said. “I feel like we could do as much good and make as much progress in subtle ways by not putting as many bows and ribbons on gay coverage, but working gay people into stories, mentioning their sexual orientation and moving along.”