WASHINGTON, DC—Today, a group of leading advocacy organizations including NARAL Pro-Choice America, Giffords, United We Dream, and LGBTQ Task Force have joined forces to launch a new initiative, Guiding Principles for Inclusive, Accurate, and Unbiased Coverage. As issues such as abortion, immigration, gun violence, and LGBTQ equality are prominently in the national media spotlight, the organizations are equipping reporters and newsrooms with recommendations for including critical perspectives of impacted communities; avoiding amplifying disinformation; and contextualizing sources and important public opinion information.
Statement from Adrienne Kimmell, NARAL Pro-Choice America Acting President
“Attacks on reproductive freedom and abortion access are rampant, and we know that those seeking to restrict and ban abortion intentionally infuse disinformation into the conversation. For example: look no further than how the medically-inaccurate term ‘heartbeat bill’ often makes its way into abortion coverage without adequate context. Abortion is and will only become more front-and-center in the news, especially with the Supreme Court set to hear a case directly challenging Roe v. Wade, which a resounding majority of Americans want to keep in place. It’s more important than ever that news outlets be intentional about how they cover not only abortion, but all of the driving issues of the day that have implications for people and communities. Failure to do so disproportionately harms women, LGBTQ people, people of color, immigrants, and people trying to make ends meet. NARAL is proud to join forces with our partners to launch these Guiding Principles and be a resource for press.”
Statement from Peter Ambler, Giffords Executive Director
“Words matter. Words can incite violence and fan the flames of insurrection, or words can launch a powerful movement for change. When outdated terms like “gun control” are used to describe commonsense gun safety policies, or when the patriotic-sounding “constitutional carry” is used to describe extremely dangerous permit-less concealed carry laws, we are ceding ground to extremist, destructive forces like the NRA and letting them take control of the narrative. When we focus on mass shootings at the exclusion of more common types of gun violence, or humanize perpetrators while failing to humanize victims, we are doing a disservice to those who are already bearing the pain and trauma of gun violence. We hope that these guiding principles will be helpful to the organizations and individuals doing the critical work of telling the story of gun violence in America.”
Statement from Juanita Monsalve, United We Dream Senior Marketing and Creative Director
“The media plays a significant role in helping to tell the story of our youth-led, people-powered movement, which is why United We Dream was proud to help create these ‘Guiding Principles.’ It is a privilege for journalists to hear our stories, so it’s important for them to get it right, and treat the stories of our community with the care, respect, and dignity we deserve. Anti-immigrant sentiments and racism are one in the same. They are both fuled by bad actors who use disinformation to drive narratives which harm immigrant communities. Anti-immigrant hate groups are often quoted in immigration stories without important and necessary context on their background as nativists with a history of eugenics. The media has a responsibility to ensure the voices of those directly impacted by policy are uplifted in stories, while also ensuring that racist, xenophobic, and nativist views are, at the very least, named as such. Not doing so fuels hateful narratives, and harms our communities.”
Statement from Cathy Renna, National LGBTQ Task Force Communications Director:
“Across the country, legislators are working diligently to restrict the rights of LGBTQ people – in many cases specifically targeting transgender and non-binary youth and adolescents. This year, we have seen a record number of not only anti-transgender legislation but of violent deaths of transgender people than ever before, almost all trans women of color, which has placed a unique focus on the transgender community in the media. Under this spotlight, reporters have a responsibility to represent our community in a nuanced, unbiased, and accurate way. The National LGBTQ Task Force is proud to help create these Guiding Principles to assist reporters in covering this harmful and complicated legislation. We have embraced and addressed the need to talk about our work at the intersections and how all of these issue areas connect us. By creating this guide, we hope to read stories that capture the humanity of our community, dispel disinformation and include the perspectives of LGBTQ people.”
Today’s digital age has fueled disinformation and the groups are collectively working to tackle the ways in which disinformation makes its way into mainstream news coverage. Inaccurate terminology taken at face value, lack of relevant public opinion information, and failure to capture perspectives of communities most impacted can be harmful and skew how readers, listeners, and viewers understand these key issues. The release of the Guiding Principles comes at an important time where issues such as abortion, gun safety, and immigration are at the forefront of the national conversation. Journalism informed by these standards will help enable the public to have a clear view of these important issues and so they can understand the public policies that affect them the most.