Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Trans Advocacy As Journalism

Ithaca Journal hands a story over to an LGBT commissar for prior review
Screen Shot 2019-06-12 at 11.33.12 AM

A reader writes:

A few years ago, there was a very sad murder of a transgender person in my hometown of Ithaca, New York. Today the local paper runs a very long account of her life and murder, which is good throughout, with one huge exception:

[Quoting from the newspaper’s note to readers:] As a matter of ethical principle, we generally do not allow outside sources to review our work before publication. In this case, however, we felt the need to tell Josie’s story in the fairest, most accurate way possible over-ruled that policy.

We turned to Luca Maurer, Ithaca College’s Center for LGBTQ Education, Outreach and Services director, who in addition to being an expert voice also knew Josie personally. Maurer reviewed our story before publication and contributed valuable insight into accurate terminology, pronoun usage and context regarding barriers faced by the transgender community. With Maurer’s guidance, we were able to make several key decisions designed to honor Josie’s legacy and memory, such as omitting the name she was given at birth and not including childhood photos that did not depict Josie in her affirmed gender.

The reader continues:

As a lover of good journalism (and an intense student journalist in high school and college), I find this horrifying––even though, again, I’m not a conservative, and I have transgender friends, whose transgenderness I support. But violating one of the most sacred principles of journalism to hew to these latter-day left-wing shibboleths––maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, especially given everything Jesse Singal has gone through in his journalism, but it’s such a reversal of priorities. Do many journalists today see themselves as activists, rather than seekers of objective truth?

Yes, absolutely, they do! Over a decade ago, I had an argument with a colleague in the newsroom about our newspaper’s coverage of the gay marriage issue. He honestly did not see that there was more than one side to the issue, and that there was anything wrong with the newspaper’s advocacy journalism. “Would we feel obligated to give equal time to the KKK?” he asked — and he wasn’t kidding. This attitude was common all the way up the chain, from the newsroom to the management suites.

Because the Ithaca Journal let a commissar approve their story — and direct the story — prior to publication, you can be sure that everything in it is propaganda, even what is true. It’s propaganda not because it’s all false — perhaps none of it is false — but because they will have omitted any facts that complicate this trans person’s story, or that violate the Narrative. The Ithaca Journal completely destroys its credibility with this move.

As a general rule, I regard every piece of mainstream journalism about any topic related to LGBT issues as propaganda. Again, I don’t mean “propaganda” in the sense that it’s false, but propaganda in the sense that it is the marshaling of facts to advocate for a particular pre-decided point of view. Because after all, why would you give equal time to the KKK?

What conservatives and others who are skeptical in any way of LGBT ideology need to understand, and understand now, is that in the minds of very many liberals — especially white liberals — what we believe is no different from Ku Kluckery. I’m not kidding.

By the way, take a look at Alex Tabarrok’s chart documenting how extremely woke The New York Times became around 2011. 



Want to join the conversation?

Subscribe for as little as $5/mo to start commenting on Rod’s blog.

Join Now