SOIN's August 2001 Workshop:
The Press Release
Eminem, Elton John and the media storm over gay-bashing lyrics. The Matthew Shepard murder. Gays in the military, in the Scouts, in the schools, in the churches. These controversial, front-page issues are journalism's cutting edge. They are part of the diverse communities that journalists now cover. At their heart are free speech, diversity, and civil liberties.
More than ever, the news industry expects staff members to sprint at the starting gun with little on-the-job instruction. Are journalism students entering the profession prepared to slice through the rhetoric and stereotypes to produce incisive, sophisticated analysis of these topics?
These are the questions on the table at a pre-convention workshop dialogue between educators and newsroom pros Saturday, Aug. 4, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the annual meeting of the Association for Educators of Journalism and Mass Communication. Titled, Dialogue on Gay and Lesbian Issues in Journalism for Educators and News Professionals, the roundtable-form workshop is sponsored by AEJMCs Commission on the Status of Women in collaboration with the Annenberg School of Journalism at USC. Leroy Aarons, award-winning journalist and visiting professor at Annenberg, will be master of ceremonies. Journalism-Mass Comm. Prof. Judith Cramer of the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University will moderate the dialogue.
The workshop will bring together some 40 journalism academics and news industry journalists for a roundtable discussion about how issues of sexual orientation are both taught and covered. Journalism academics and administrators will discuss the state instruction in these areas, the barriers and opportunities. The news professionals editors, producers and reporters will evaluate coverage today and what knowledge they expect of new journalists entering the profession with regard to these issues. The discussion will stimulate a synergy of ideas as to how to meld the needs of the profession with the capabilities of teaching institutions.
The goal: To use this unique collaboration to stimulate ideas and practical initiatives to tailor the teaching of these topics to the needs of the profession. Ultimately, it is to promote better journalism in covering these complex social issues.
Annenbergs Aarons, whose career included national reporting for The Washington Post and executive editorship of The Oakland Tribune, conceived the dialogue. In 1990 he founded the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) and is currently director of Annenbergs Program for the Study of Sexual Orientation Issues in the News (SOIN).
I have found that gay and lesbian issues
get inadequate attention in journalism instruction, said Aarons.
The result is that tomorrows journalists have little in the
way of the context or texture necessary to a mature understanding of these
The Aug. 4 dialogue will include:
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