Conservative Activists Address Homosexual Journalists

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

( - In a first for both sides of the homosexuality debate, a national organization of homosexual journalists has permitted conservative critics of alleged media bias in reporting of sexual politics to address its annual convention.

Amid allegations that homosexual activists are routinely given influential positions on journalists' and writers' panels, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association invited conservative activists Peter LaBarbera, Michael Johnston and Brian Camenker to participate in a panel on media bias at its convention in Dallas, Sept. 7.

"These people are part of the story," said Robert Dodge, president of the NLGJA, in reference to the activists. "As a journalist organization, we're here to look at how we cover both sides of the story."

At the organization's convention last year in San Francisco, the NLGJA hosted a panel of executive directors of all the leading homosexual rights groups on the topic of how they were covered in news reports.

"Then Peter LaBarbera suggested we do this panel and look at the other side of the story and we said, you know, that's probably a good idea," Dodge said.

"I'm going to keep my mind open and I'm going to go to the panel and listen to what people say," he added.

Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute and an outspoken critic of what he sees as a pronounced pro-homosexual bias in the media, praised the NLGJA's decision.

"Given the stranglehold that gay activists have exerted over Hollywood and mainstream media, it is remarkable that the convention is even allowing a critique. We hope that there are enough professionals in the ranks to see the problem and work to correct it," he said.

But already the decision has drawn fire from some conferees. At a meeting Friday, Judy Gerber, a freelance journalist from San Francisco and a candidate for the NLGJA national board of directors, said inviting conservative activists to address the convention was like the National Association of Black Journalists inviting David Duke to its meetings.

Instead, the organizers should invite people to inform the participants on the activities of the "homophobes" opposed to the NLGJA, LaBarbera quoted Gerber as saying.

"Over and over again, we've seen them compare us to the KKK, to racists, so some of them at least, not all of them, think there is no other side that is legitimate on homosexuality," LaBarbera said in a phone interview.

"I'm not complaining about people in the gay press," LaBarbera said. "I expect them not to be fair because they're advocates for homosexuality. But we expect more out of the ones working at CBS and CNN."

Michael Johnston, director of Kerusso Ministries and a former homosexual, said the debate on pro-homosexual bias in the media was long overdue.

"I'm not even going to argue whether there's a bias. I don't think anybody with a straight face can say there's not a bias," he said.

The question, as Johnston sees it, is should there be a bias and how should that bias affect the journalistic enterprise.

"My concern is that on this public debate on homosexuality, the moral aspect and certainly the Christian perspective has been choked out, and that serves no one well. It certainly doesn't serve the journalistic enterprise well if you look at how important the fathers of journalism believed that faith perspective was supposed to be," he said.

The influence of religion on journalism in the United States goes back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, when many of the newspaper editors in what are now liberal newspapers were very fervent Christians, Johnston said.

"I think it is very striking if we look at the way the media has covered this issue over the last 10 or 20 years, that we see an almost complete disconnect from that Christian background.

"Some of that is the spin that activist organizations put on the issue - they don't want it to be considered as a moral issue, they want it to be considered as a civil rights issue - but I think the other part is if we look at surveys of those who are in decision-making positions of the media, there is a decided irreligiosity about them," he said.

"So I think to some extent there's a disconnect on the moral issue, on the faith issue, because they simply don't get it. They don't understand the faith issue because they've not been exposed to it," Johnston said.