Karen Ocamb

LGBT Journalists Honored at NLGJA Chicago Convention

Filed By Karen Ocamb | August 26, 2014 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Chris Geidner, Mark King, National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, NLGJA, Tracy Baim

Tracy-Baim-Chris-Geidner.jpgThe historic, relatively rapid change in attitudes towards LGBT people in the past decade is often attributed to more people coming out and more LGBT visibility through celebrities and popular TV shows. But there's also been a steady drumbeat of mostly positive media coverage of LGBT people and issues -- a fact the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association helped with and took note of during their annual convention.

Held in Chicago this year, the four-day confab from August 21-24 included the 10th annual LGBT Media Summit and served as a forum for LGBT and allied journalists from the spectrum of "mainstream" and LGBT media to discuss how to improve fair and accurate coverage of LGBT issues. There was also discussion of the intersectionality of issues, such as how and why the LGBT community responded to the police shooting of African American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

NPR's Scott Simon delivered the keynote address, and plenary and workshop sessions included such themes as "Diversity Hits and Misses: How Media Outlets Cover Diversity Within the LGBT Community," which was moderated by longtime communications specialist Cathy Renna.

Additionally, the organization gave out a slew of awards, including Journalist of the Year to Buzzfeed's legal eagle reporter Chris Geidner, who earned his journalism chops at the D.C.-based gay MetroWeekly. And this year, two of the three LGBT journalists inducted into the NLGJA Hall of Fame came from the LGBT press: Windy City Times Publisher and journalism guru Tracy Baim (pictured above with Geidner), who also won Excellence in Opinion/Editorial Writing for her editorial "The Content of Our Character: Trayvon Martin and Us" -- and Lisa Keen, the highly regarded former Washington Blade editor who now runs the Keen News Service. Also inducted was former longtime New York Times copy editor Donna Cartwright, a pioneering out transgender journalist. Longtime HIV positive video blogger Mark King of My Fabulous Disease received the Excellence in Blogging award. King is also a Bilerico Project contributor.

NLGJA was founded in 1990 by Leroy F. Aarons, a former Oakland Tribune executive editor, the year after he presented findings from the first-ever survey of 250 print gay and lesbian journalists -- 60 percent of whom were closeted -- to the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) which found that coverage of LGBT issues was "at best mediocre." Aaron also wrote an important book on suicide by gay youth called Prayers for Bobby: A Mother's Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son, which was turned into a powerful TV movie in 2009 starring Sigourney Weaver. Bobby Griffith, 20, jumped to his death from a freeway overpass in 1983 after failing his religious mother, who tried to "pray away" the gay. The story is about Mary Griffith's transformation after her loss. Aarons read about Griffith's struggle in 1989, before undertaking the newspaper survey showing how poorly LGBT people were covered by the media.

The Windy City Times has extensive coverage and photos of the NLGJA convention. The photo above was taken by Hal Baim/Windy City Times and posted courtesy of the Windy City Times.


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