Should Media Highlight Homosexuality?

We have a question for you kids: at which point does highlighting homosexuality hinder journalism? We’re not talking outing people here. We’re talking stories that could otherwise be presented without discussing sexuality.

The reason we ask is that we just came across this op-ed piece in today’s Cape Argus in which South African journalist Nosimilo Ndlovu scolds the South African press for sensationizing gay-themed stories in order to get an unethical rise. Ndlovu writes:

The media is always quick to point out sexuality in news, even if it is unrelated to the crime – creating a sense of “otherness”, that the community is not part of the rest of society. Headlines such as “Lesbian rapes old granny” insinuate that the lesbian’s sexuality is reason for her actions. There are more reports of men raping women but we would never see headline that says “Heterosexual man rapes young girl”.

Of course, such eye-popping tactics aren’t endemic to just South Africa.

Consider the murder of Bryan Charles Kocis. Nearly every headline about his brutal stabbing and the combustible cover-up references the fact that Kocis owned gay porn production company, Cobra Media. Certainly it helped spread the story to myriad media outlets, this site included, but does that make it right? We’re not sure. We suppose from a socially conscious perspective, no, not really? One could argue, however that his murder may be intrinsically tied to his porny past, thus making it a potentially important detail.

So, let’s consider a hypothetical situation. Say a gay man has sex with a little boy. Many mainstream media would blow his sexuality out of proportion, thus perpetuating false links between homosexuality and pedophilia. Meanwhile, some gay media outlets wouldn’t touch that story. There’ve been a number of stories we’ve avoided for just that reason. In that case, who’s right? At which point does sexuality become an intrinsic part of the story and when can it be eschewed in the name of furthering social acceptance?

Just something we’ve been pondering and would love to hear what you guys have to say about it.