E&P Editor Blasts Newspaper Biz for Insufficient Gay Marriage Support

Writing at Editor and Publisher, the bible of the newspaper industry, senior editor Joe Strupp blasts newspapers for not doing enough to promote gay marriage:

The gay marriage debate has wasted time, energy and effort long enough. It barely shows up in a list of issues that concern Americans in a Gallup Poll released in the past week. And the current proposal for a constitutional ban on gay marriage may be the height of abuse.

It is bad enough that newspapers have not taken a harder stance in favor of gay rights in the past. But to allow this short-sighted misuse of the Constitution to move ahead without condemnation would be the ultimate irresponsibility.

Forty and fifty years ago, some of what kept the fight for black civil rights going came from newspapers. Either through the strong, tireless coverage on the news pages, or the brave, stubborn stand on some editorial pages, the plight of blacks seeking justice was a clear, necessary story that many papers would not let go.

Today's fight for gay rights has some similar elements, but it has not reached the level of demand for full justice that the civil rights movement before it did. I remain puzzled that gays and lesbians are not taking their battle for true equality to the streets in huge numbers. That could be part of the reason that the newspapers have not taken up their cause as a priority. [...]

Many newspapers, including The New York Times, now publish announcements of gay unions side-by-side with those of heterosexual marriages. If papers can do that, they can, and should, take the next step and use their editorial pages to indicate why such unions should be just as legal.

I was glad to see that several newspapers, from The Washington Post to The Times of Trenton, N.J., have editorialized against Bush's latest proposal. Hopefully, more will do so this week. To be sure, gay marriage will be legal and common some day, and hard earned, like women's suffrage and desegregation of schools in our past.

The real reason papers haven't heeded Strupp's advice is that gay marriage is something that is widely opposed by the public. Americans have never voted for it in any referenda, even in Democratic-leaning states like Oregon and California. For papers to take such a contrary editorial position does them no good maintaining their declining public trust. Nor would it have any effect since no one especially cares what an editorial board thinks about much of anything.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013