Saturday, October 16, 2004

Gay-Friendliness a Prerequisite for Media Accreditation

October 15, 2004
Gay-Friendly News Urged
by Steve Jordahl, correspondent

If you think the mainstream media is biased now when it comes to coverage of homosexual issues, just wait.
College journalism departments that hope to be accredited by a national council are going to have to foster a deeper understanding of gay issues among students next year.
The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC)—which accredits journalism departments at 104 colleges—is reducing the standards it uses to judge a school from 12 to nine. And it's also adding sexual orientation to the diversity standard, according to ACEJMC Executive Director Susanne Shaw.
"You have to understand that we really haven't had any cycle using these new nine standards," she said, "so I am a little premature when I say that they won't lose their accreditation."
Shaw promised the council will try to accommodate Christian colleges, but said one of the ways it judges compliance is an inclusive curriculum.
"Then we look at course syllabi to see how they're talking about diversity or how they're preparing students to cover stories in a diverse world," she said.
James Bruce, a professor at an accredited school in Tennessee, said gay activists within the council pushed for the changes.
"This past year," he said, "a splinter group of the ACEJMC decided that they would push to have included in the diversity section, the LGBT (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgendered) category."
Not coincidentally, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association became a member of the council last year. Tom Hess, editor of Focus on the Family's Citizen magazine, said the changes add insult to injury.
"There's a great sensitivity to the homosexual issue in the newsroom," Hess said. "There already is a bias, in that they don't quite understand our side of the issue, and this will only exacerbate it."
The move, he added, highlights the importance of alternative Christian media sources.