This Newspaper Editor Wanted To Apologize For Running A Pro-Lesbian Story, And It’s All Our Fault

After bigots started complaining about a Mother’s Day article featuring two lesbian moms, Tom Marquardt editor and publisher of the Annapolis-based paper Capital began writing an apology. Y’know, because newspapers should only print what their readers wanna hear.

And though it would be easy to lambast Marquardt for bowing to the complaints of his conservative readers, perhaps we should blame ourselves along with the more progressive readers.

The apology has since been scrapped on the suggestion of his staffers, but let’s look at some sections from Marquardt’s original apology:

… newspaper publishes its mistakes for all to see. And that we did on May 8 with a Mother’s Day story on a lesbian couple raising two baby boys born to them through artificial insemination. The reaction among our readers was swift and damning…

Unfortunately for us, we lost sight of what the readers want to read: feel good stories about people who reflect their values. Newspapers need to mirror its readers — all of them perhaps, but inclusion not at the exception of the majority…

Had we included homosexual couples in a wide-ranging story about mothers and published it on some day other than Mother’s Day, readers probably would have been more accepting of it. There was a better way to tell this story and to also tell the story about the traditional family.”

He has since admitted, “It would be wrong to assume that the column would have run without editing and adjustment — I gave it to the key players seeking feedback, correction and suggestions.” He also added, “The staff suggested I write a column about our internal struggle [over reader responses to the article] and I may do that.”

But here’s the thing: Marquardt initially found himself besieged by comments and reader complaints like, “It makes me ill to think that innocent children are brought into abnormal situations.” And though many pro-equality commenters have posted supportive comments now that this story has garnered nationwide attention, we wonder how many people actually bothered to praise the paper for publishing the article when it first ran?

Even here at Queerty critics will often voice their opposition first with supportive readers jumping in after, which is reactive rather than proactive. While it’s our job to alert LGBT readers about such stories when they break (as Queerty commenter Patrick helpfully pointed out), if Marquardt had first heard from lots of people who loved seeing lesbian moms on Mother’s Day, he never would have felt pressured to pen an apology for publishing challenging, progressive, and inclusive coverage of his own community.

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  • Patrick

    Queerty, you do have a point that people should have contacted the Annapolis paper with messages of support. I’m sure it would have been gratifying to the paper at minimum, and very likely give them pause before apologizing for it.
    Might I suggest, however, that more people would send such supportive messages if they knew about the article in the first place. As a gay news blog, maybe you should report on such stories. You blame your entire readership for not responding earlier, when most of us do not live in Annapolis, and most of us do not report on LGBT stories for a living. Perhaps you should should change the name of your article from “It’s All Your Fault” to “It’s All Our Fault”.

  • Cam

    One thing that the larger gay groups need to be better at…rather than continually apologising for gays existance and trying to make everybody love us….

    Is that, this editor should never have thought he needed to apologize this, anymore than he would have if he got reader complaints about him running a story about women with jobs, or an interacial couple.

    When they make people realize that, then they would have started to be worth the money that they ask for every year.

  • Mark

    @Patrick: You’re right Patrick. This is the first I’ve heard of it.

  • Jeffree

    Let’s see: A story about Mother’s Day that included information about two mothers. Hardly seems out of line, to me.

    Yes, I get your point ,though: when a local paper prints something LGBT-positive, we should let them know we noticed. Since people w/ complaints are *always* more likely to chime in than folks with complaints, we’d be better off sending kudos before the whiners start snarling.

    I’m no role model here, but I do occasionally (4-5 times a year?) send a couple words of thanks to journalists at the two local papers I read , when they get a good story right.

    And when they don’t get it right and I say my piece, at least they know who I am & that I’m not completely unreasonable.

  • Brian Miller

    Lame. Journalists are supposed to report on reality, regardless of what any party wishes was the case. Journalists complaining of the rise of blogs and social media take note — if you can’t report on reality without “notes of support,” it’s time to quit the business, since you’ll be among the first to fail.

  • Jeffree

    @Brian Miller: Lame.
    Many MSM journalists blog for their paper as well as their regular duties. If they only hear from the haters then they can assume those people represent the majority of readers.

    It’s called civility. Try it sometime.

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