Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Being Heard

Thanks to Equality NC supporter and volunteer, Tim, for this personal experience.

"I want to relate a recent success story for equality here in North Carolina.

It happened last Tuesday as a result of NOM's marriage discrimination tour stop in Raleigh. That evening I was watching News Channel 14, the Time Warner Cable 24 hours news channel, and they had a "teaser" for the upcoming coverage of the event. I left the channel on in order to see the news coverage.

Overall the news coverage was both fair and positive. The reporter highlighted the fact that there were more than double the number of pro-equality supporters at the event as there were people supporting NOM's anti-equality position.

But, the reporter used the terms "homosexual marriage" and "homosexuals" during the coverage instead of the acceptable terms of "marriage equality," "same-sex marriage," "LGBT," or "gays and lesbians." I was offended by this, so I took action. I immediately contacted News Channel 14 by email through their web site. I asked them to please stop using the offensive language, explained why the language was offensive, explained what terms were acceptable, and referred them to the AP Style Guide for further advice.

News Channel 14 responded positively to me within an hour. They apologized to me, explained that they knew it was wrong, said that it was against their existing policy and was a mistake, said they were already in the process of correcting it, and said they planned to use the incident as a "teachable moment" for their entire staff.

News Channel 14 did the right thing. In fact they thanked me for bringing the issue to their attention and did everything they could to make corrections as swiftly as possible and take the appropriate steps to stop this from happening in the future. I made sure to thank them for their positive response as well.

Moral of the story? One person can make a difference. You just have to believe you can and make the effort."

Thanks to Tim for taking the time and effort to do this and for telling the tale. One person's efforts can result in a positive change that's seen by hundreds or thousands. There's no telling how far-reaching a single positive action will be.

(If something about reporting on an equality issue or LGBT-related story catches your attention, in addition to the standard AP Style Guide, GLAAD has a great Media Reference Guide for gay-positive and affirming language standards, and the Movement Advancement Project offers guides on talking about all kinds of LGBT issues, including relationship recognition and marriage.)

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