On Feb. 12, hundreds of New York Times contributors sent an open letter to the newspaper condemning anti-trans bias in its reporting. On the same day, a second letter from prominent LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations including GLAAD expressed similar sentiments to the Times. The Times, as one of the predominant media organizations in the world, has a responsibility to weigh the effects of what they cover, who they give a platform and what they choose not to cover. These are not neutral choices, and they have real consequences. The Collegian stands with the writers and organizations condemning the New York Times’ reporting, and we encourage everyone to sign on to the letter here.
As the letter by contributors outlines, the Times’ coverage of debates around trans rights, specifically over the right of trans youth to access healthcare, displays a false neutrality. The Times, according to reporting cited in the letter, has spent 15,000 front-page words in the past 8 months debating health care for trans youth. Platforming those campaigning against healthcare for trans youth goes past legitimate discussion — it presents as rational arguments hate and bigotry against an already marginalized group whose rights are at this time under fierce attack. “The Times has in recent years treated gender diversity with an eerily familiar mix of pseudoscience and euphemistic, charged language, while publishing reporting on trans children that omits relevant information about its sources,” it reads. The letter goes on to compare this current moment to the Times previous failures to responsibly cover queer communities — from “debates” over homosexuality to failure to cover the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.
Journalism matters. Sourcing matters. Uncritically quoting so-called experts without revealing their positions and politics is not unbiased reporting and should not be treated as such. And this is not harmless: as the open letter makes clear, this coverage has been weaponized in efforts to restrict trans rights in the courts and in state houses. It’s not only hateful and irresponsible to treat these viewpoints with equal weight — it’s dangerous.
At the bare minimum, the Times should heed the demands presented in the letter. Hire more trans contributors and editors, and cease the harmful reporting practices it has engaged in.
At the Collegian, we are committed to honest reporting. Good reporting shows the whole story, announces any potential bias of sources and does not do harm to already marginalized communities. All news organizations should endeavor towards this standard.
Amelia, Reid and Salvatore
The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Amelia Carnell ’23 and Salvatore Macchione ’23 and executive director Reid Stautberg ’23. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.
Comments are subject to review and moderation. We won't publish your email address or send you unsolicited emails.
Leave a comment