News coverage of issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex people was the headline on Thursday November 13, 2014 as United and Strong held a workshop for media practitioners. The workshop is part of an ongoing regional project with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Print and broadcast journalists and video editors engaged in frank discussion about their approach to covering LGBTI related news, and current practices. They identifying concerns about “promoting homosexuality”, a lack of human resource and inadequate training as the main issues affecting their treatment of these matters.
“The objective is not to manipulate the media, but to provide them with resources to help them to more effectively carry out their work,” says Executive Director of U&S Kenita Placide.
U&S Communications and Advocacy manager Maria Fontenelle made a presentation highlighting issues identified in a monitoring exercise undertaken in July across the region. In addition to Saint Lucia, sources were monitored by advocacy partners in Grenada (Groundation Grenada), Jamaica (J-FLAG), Guyana (Guybow) and Belize (UniBAM). Fontenelle notes, “What we found was that journalists in the Caribbean tend to cover events and incidences, not create news stories; that issues relating to LGBT people were often sensationalised; that many stories contained prejudicial language; and that balance was often lacking. We provide resources in the hope that we will can assist journalists in providing fair, accurate and inclusive news media coverage, which has will continue to be important in expanding public awareness and understanding of LGBT lives. “
The presentation explored the use of non-discriminatory and inclusive language and stressed the need for handling certain stories with sensitivity. Media practitioners were also presented with resources to inform their coverage in the future. While the attendance was low, information will be disseminated to other journalists who were unable to be present but have expressed an interest in expanding their knowledge on the subject.