A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

Diversity IN-BRIEF

By Quill

NY Times announces gay unions in Sunday section

One of America’s most well known and well-read newspapers, The New York Times, now publishes same-sex commitment ceremony and partnership agreement announcements right beside the wedding and anniversary announcements.

According to The Times, the gay and lesbian union announcements were placed in the Sunday Styles section because they were of great importance to readers. The Weddings section has also been changed to “Weddings/Celebrations.”

Howell Raines, The New York Times executive editor, said in a statement that it recognized the divide in society over the legal and religious definition of marriage, and its news columns would remain impartial on that matter.

The change came just days after the New York City Council voted to recognize same-sex partnerships made outside the city as legal. Before the city’s actions, couples had to reregister after moving to the city, which meant a yearlong wait before gaining spousal rights, such as succession rights to homes and apartments.

The first announcement of a commitment ceremony to run in The Times was the union of a Fulbright scholar and a public affairs consulting firm founder. The ceremony between Daniel Gross, 32, and Steven Goldstein, 40, in Vermont ran with their photo in the revised section. “Ten years ago, none of this would have been possible,” Goldstein said during an exchange of Jewish vows at the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Montreal.

Newspaper apologizes for front page

The Philadelphia Daily News was accused of racial insensitivity after it ran a story with mug shots on the front page of more than a dozen murder suspects – all minorities – who the police were trying to catch. The Daily News later printed an apology for any undue harm the article could have cost diverse communities in the city.

“The front page photos from last Thursday sent the message to some readers that only black men commit murder. That was a mistake,” Managing Editor Ellen Foley wrote.

A group of black community leaders and civic groups joined together and demanded that Foley and Editor Zack Stalberg resign. The group, known as The Coalition for Fair News Coverage, planned protests outside the newspaper due to “racially and ethnically insensitive patterns” that were exemplified by the article’s focus on 41 fugitive murder suspects, all of whom were black, Hispanic or Asian.

Stalberg says the paper did not attempt to be racially divisive, and that neither he nor Foley have any plans to resign. In the printed apology, Foley added that the article did help police, and that two of the suspects had been arrested in a week.

He also said the apology came because of the impression it left on the community. “I think the cover was literally correct, but a mistake on our part because what we have to worry about is perceptions, and not just the literal truth,” Stalberg said.

Scripps Howard creates J-School

The Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications, dedicated Sept. 25, is possibly the first industry-created J-school at a historically black college, with the largest dollar commitment being put towards a single racial-diversity program.

The new media school, at Hampton University in Hampton, Va., will be funded initially by a $10-million fund from the E.W. Scripps Co.’s philanthropic arm.

Of the approximately 6,000 students who will attend Hampton University in the fall, nearly 300 have enrolled in the new journalism school.

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