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June 1, 2004

Judging by the Joyful

The crucial question seems to be this: Are there two sides to the gay-marriage story? Is this a case in which mainstream journalists -- as opposed to reporters at places such as, Out and some sections of the New York Times -- should attempt to find some kind of balance between those in favor and those opposed? Or, in the view of the press, is this officially a battle between the enlightened and the bigots?

Terry Mattingly posed these questions last week, addressing an opposing question, from Ron Kampeas: "How do you avoid upbeat wedding coverage?" Mattingly justifiably wonders whether there are any "journalists in U.S. newsrooms who could even imagine what this story looks like from a morally conservative point of view." That tack, however, still leaves recourse to Kampeas's line of rhetoric:

Should a wedding be covered like a campaign rally, with every second graf a reminder of "why this might be wrong." How do you fact check a wedding? How many people, even among the opponents of gay marriage, could be counted on for pertinent nay-saying quotes in wedding coverage?

The whole discussion misses the more prominent aspect of bias in coverage of Massachusetts's same-sex marriages. One doesn't have to dig up quotations from protesters to balance a piece about an event, just as one doesn't have to include activists' quotations to impart bias. As I've touched on before, the key to balance, and to giving due credence to the "other side," in this case is to show couples that illustrate the concerns of those who object, not just those who further the chosen image of the activists.

Posted by Justin Katz at June 1, 2004 8:15 PM
Marriage & Family