Spak also adds some startling background that was new to me: “In 2011, during a television interview, George compared the gay rights movement to the Klu Klux Klan.” She explains the cardinal was protesting the new route of the annual Gay Pride parade, scheduled to pass a Catholic Church during Mass. Later, he apologized.

This is important information, because it shows that George is perhaps not as warm toward the gay community as he claims in his letter (“Does this mean that the Church is anti-gay? No, for the Church welcomes everyone, respects each one personally and gives to each the spiritual means necessary to convert to God’s ways … .”). However, I wish the revelation wasn’t placed at the end of Spak’s story without a response. It packs a punch there, but it also makes the piece feel like it is leaning left. Why? Because it seems like the writer is trying to make a point: George is homophobic. That sort of claim certainly deserves a response from George or at least the church. I’d rather have seen that information earlier, as a direct counterpoint to George’s claim that the church reaches out to gay people, so that it doesn’t come across as opinion.

The gay movement is advancing rapidly—sometimes so rapidly that it’s tough for reporters who don’t follow it closely not to get caught up in the snarls of language and mired in the subtleties of both sides’ arguments. Those complexities mean that the Tribune story conveys a slight anti-gay stance that it may not mean and that the Sun-Times seems more pro-gay marriage than perhaps is its intent. It may be impossible to ever be completely objective, but if we pay attention to pitfalls regularly associated with these stories, we can get closer.

Ends today: If you'd like to help CJR and win a chance at one of
10 free print subscriptions, take a brief survey for us here.

 

Jennifer Vanasco is a is a news editor at WNYC and the former editor in chief of MTV Network's LGBT news site 365gay.com. She writes about social minorities, national politics, and culture. Her award-winning newspaper column on gay and women's issues ran for 15 years.