Getting LGBT news worldwide

October 22, 2018
Category: Newsletters

New LGBT news source, disbelieving the Saudis, fund launches to promote membership for news orgs

Antonio Zappulla had worked for two years to build a platform to get LBGT news out to the 1 billion people worldwide who access Reuters news daily.

Openly launched last month as a platform of the Thomson Reuters Foundation with a mission to expand the horizon of what is considered LGBT news as well, beyond white male gay news in the urban developed world. The platform has attracted several key sponsors that have multiyear commitment to the mission.

"Although the main goal of our journalism is to raise public awareness and spark an informed discussion, we know our stories will play a crucial role in informing government policy, shaping legal reform, empowering civil society and engaging businesses in the dialogue with local stakeholders," said Zappulla, a longtime Bloomberg journalist and executive who is the foundation's COO. “I believe news can change society, because it can change attitudes.”

He cites the power of one recent story, on Malaysian health authorities holding a video contest on how to “prevent” homosexuality and transgenderism. The attention prompted Malaysia's defense of the contest before later deciding to abandon it, amid an outcry. Zappulla, speaking to me from London, has an independent editor and staff and shared freelance list with Reuters, which also has a LGBT team. 

Antonio Zappulla
Antonio Zappulla

In launching the site, Zappulla went to companies who might have been more comfortable sponsoring parts of Gay Pride events. Nothing wrong with that for a company's corporate social responsibility team, Zappulla said, "but if you just do that, you're not changing the world. You're just ticking a box."

The launch has been strong enough, Zappulla said, that marketers are referring to the weeks-old site like it's been established for years. The launch has come amid initial steps toward equality in nations such as India, as well as retrograde proposals such as one by the Trump administration to eliminate legal protections for America's estimated 1.4 million openly transgender people. 

Zappulla's change-the-world pitch found receptivity at Barilla, the Parma, Italy,-based pasta maker, which signed on as an underwriting sponsor. “For us, this is about underreported news,” said Barilla's chief diversity officer, Kristen Anderson. 

The 141-year-old pasta company also has plants in Russia and Turkey. Anderson said that to be successful worldwide, it must work to bring together a workforce committed to respecting LGBT and Q-plus workers, people with disabilities, gender equality, generational equality and multicultural and ethnic diversity. And it wants to be seen as a leader.

Some of Openly's initial stories have proven quite popular, such as a profile of Meghna Sahoo, heralded as India's first transgender cab driver. "There is no job we cannot do," Sahoo said. "We just need the opportunity," 

Quick hits

NEW THIS MORNING: A new $700,000 fund will seek to support independent news organizations' efforts to build sustainable membership models worldwide. The Membership News Fund will seek applications from nonprofits, for-profits and coops, for example. The fund is an outgrowth of the Membership Puzzle Project, run by New York University and Dutch journalism platform De Correspondent. Funders include the Democracy Fund and Luminate, formerly the Governance & Citizen Engagement initiative at Omidyar Network.

Emilio Gutierrez Soto
 Emilio Gutiérrez Soto

COURT HEARING: A dozen news organizations have written letters in support ahead of Monday’s immigration court hearing for Emilio Gutiérrez Soto (pictured), the award-winning Mexican journalist who has been threatened with deportation by the Trump administration. Gutiérrez Soto, the 2017 winner of the National Press Club’s Press Freedom award, is a mid-career fellow at the University of Michigan's Knight-Wallace journalism program after eight months of imprisonment by U.S. officials. PEN America and the Committee to Protect Journalists are among groups backing Gutiérrez Soto, who faced death threats from the Mexican military after he reported on army robberies of northward-bound migrants. Here's background on the case. (Photo: Lynette Clemetson)

WE MOVED ON?: Migrant kids are still being detained at border centers, but the national reporters aren't there as much anymore, says NYT's Jim Rutenberg, citing a click-, algorithm- and shiny object-driven news cycle. Speak for yourself, responded Emily Ramshaw of the Texas Tribune, which has stayed covering the cases. "@TexasTribune’s news algorithm hasn’t moved on, nor has our news cycle," she tweeted.

CAREFUL ON THAT CARAVAN: NAHJ criticized AP's use of "ragtag army of the poor" to describe a caravan of migrants on Mexico's southern border. Former El Paso Times Editor Bob Moore takes Politico to task for not calling out Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his bogus and wrong description of "a record number of U.S.-bound migrants." "We're at a small fraction of record migration levels," Moore tweeted. Also be careful: Do not use dehumanizing terms such as swarm, herd or horde.

BS: That’s how Washington Post editor Karen Attiah described the Saudi version of the murder of journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Two GOP senators, Bob Corker and Ben Sasse, backed her up on CNN shows Sunday. "You don't bring an bone saw to an accidental 'fist fight,'" said Sasse, of Nebraska. Tennessee's Corker, who said he believes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman directed the assassination, said the world cannot afford to have some immature leader doing this worldwide for the next three or four decades. In a joint statement, Germany, the UK and France asked Saudi Arabia to deliver a factual explanation behind its killing of the journalist.

BBC SKEWERED: Scotland's leader ditched a BBC conference because the broadcasting service invited Steve Bannon to speak. "I will not be part of any process that risks legitimizing or normalizing far-right, racist views," said Nicola Sturgeon, who rejected the BBC's defense that the white nationalist was a "powerful and influential figure." 

ONCE FOOLED: Yeah, a friend shared a bogus “news clip” with him off Facebook. Yeah, he watched it. Upset at being suckered, Geoffrey A. Fowler conducted a forensic investigation of the fake. He spoke with the original creator of the computer generated clip, which was hijacked by a skeevy site with 225,000 followers. He spoke with Facebook exec whose job is to curb misinformation. And he spoke with his friend who shared it.

MOVES: Christopher Rowland, chief of The Boston Globe’s Washington bureau, is moving a few blocks to The Washington Post to cover the business of health care. … Fellow Globe staffer Sacha Pfeiffer, a member of the Spotlight Team, is joining NPR’s investigative unit, as is contributing Post investigative reporter Cheryl W. Thompson.

'JUST CHECKING IN': The three words you should never use in an email, via Time. (h/t Willie Weinbaum)

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