Activists and journalists from around the world gathered to celebrate the launch of Openly, a digital platform for impartial, global, LGBT+ news, an extension of Thomson Reuter Foundation.
The launch was celebrated on September 25th, 2018 with a panel discussion moderated by Nicole Young of 60 Minutes. Speakers included Lyosha Goshkov, the Co-President of RUSA LGBT, Kasha Nabagesera, Executive Director of Freedom & Roam Uganda, Landon Wilson, a transgender Navy Veteran, Amir Ahsour, the Founder and Executive Director of IraQueer, and Maria Fontenelle, of the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality.
The event was hosted in partnership with the United Nations LGBTI Core Group and the UN Free & Equal campaign of the UN Human Rights Office.
The event kicked off with words from CEO, Monique Villa, who stressed that reporting impartially on under-reported issues was a pillar of Thomson Reuter journalism, and what drove the creation of Openly.
COO, Antonia Zapulla, then spoke on the current state of LGBT+ news reporting, highlighting the bias and false reporting of journalists, which can have devastating and violent consequences on the lives of LGBT+ people.
“I’m not arguing that the media should have a LGBT agenda or pro-LGBT agenda,” Zapulla explained, “I’m simply calling for good journalism.”
Several activists spoke of their own experiences with media discrimination fueling their current work. Lyosha Goshkov began by sharing his unique experience of being an queer immigrant. Goshkov recalled facing discrimination in NYC medical facilities and asking, “Why we should come [to the US] and repeat, replicate the same fears?” It was this question that inspired the created of RUSA LGBTQ, a support group for Russia-speaking queer individuals.
Kasha Nabagesera who spoke of starting her own media house and magazine, Shaggy. “I’m not a journalist; I actually hate the media,” Nabagesera admitted, “Media has been really really troublesome in my life, in my work, and in my community.” It was this fact that spurred her to take control of the stories being spread in Uganda.
Several panelists made suggestions for reporting on LGBT+ issues. Landon Wilson’s advice to journalists was stay educated and updated on language, ask questions when unsure, and employ queer people.
Wilson also pointed out that several attacks against trans people of color are not reported on, and that consumers need to consider the stories that are told, but also the ones that are not.
“It’s great to mourn us when something happens to us, but what are you doing to celebrate us while we’re here?” Wilson asked, urging journalists to take part in advocating for resources and opportunities for trans individuals.
Similarly, Amir Ashour commented on this discrepancy in international news reporting. While the 2018 shooting in Orlando was covered globally, killings of LGBT people in Iraq get little to no coverage.
“The alternative source of information for people doesn’t exist, which... might be a bit more dangerous than the misinformation that the mainstream media in Iraq is presenting,” warned Ashour.
Maria Fontenelle also highlighted this void in Eastern Caribbean news. “What happens as a whole in the region…. is an erasure. You don’t hear about LGBTQ people; they’re not in the media; they don’t make the news.”
Fontenelle was hopeful that educating journalists on language, as well as platforms like Openly, would continue to shift the narrative in a more factual, as opposed to derogatory, direction.
Although Openly will start small, with only two journalists dedicated to LGBT+ reporting, Zapulla hopes that it will continue to grow to be the ultimate source for LGBT+ news.
According to Thomson Reuter, Openly will fill a gap in Reuters news reporting, by covering topics including critical legislative change, LGBT+ specific health issues, business, and economics.
The platform also aims to “shed light on the personal accounts of those discriminated against or attacked because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, and will give visibility to the work of those people, businesses and institutions advancing LGBT+ rights.”
A live stream of the event can be viewed here.
Panelists with Thomson Reuter COO, from Openly Launch. Photo courtesy of the Thomson Reuter Foundation.
BONUS: Intern Picks for LGBT News
Openly is one of many sources for LGBT+ news. Here are some of our Intern’s favorites:
Personal Interest News
them- A mix of queerness in politics, culture, entertainment. them is not afraid to be critical or opinionated, and their approach legitimizes stories that may otherwise not have been given the same importance by other outlets. “The same news, but with a different lense.”
My.Kali- A “conceptual webzine for/from the Middle East and North Africa.” Feature-style reporting, opinion pieces, and lots of visuals/art. Plenty of stories involving LGBT people in the Middle East, often with an activist lense.
Nancy Podcast- Feature-style news reporting on all things queer in the US, including personal stories, interviews, and a light banter. Plus its hosted by two adorable queer Asian American best friends.
NBC Out- Feature-style news and other content specific to the LGBT community
PinkNews- Based in the UK, PinkNews is the perfect blend of entertainment news (for the culture) and world news. They are 24/7, have excellent writers, and don't just report on the global North.
The Economist- Not an exclusively LGBT news source, but trustworthy and reliable. Each publication features multiple news stories from every region of the world, so it's very useful for someone trying to gather a holistic view of world events rather than a solely western or U.S. centric perspective.
Washington Blade - One of the oldest sources of LGBT news in the U.S., and its experience is evident in its coverage around the DC metro area, nationally, and internationally
Published on October 2, 2018 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization