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How to pitch and prioritise LGBTQIA+ stories in the newsroom
Journalist Like Me

How to pitch and prioritise LGBTQIA+ stories in the newsroom


At the beginning of my career, advertising the fact that I was queer in a majority straight, white, male newsroom was the last thing I wanted to do.

With time and hard work, however, newsroom culture has shifted. Now, editors look to people like me for sensitive and non-biased queer coverage.

So how can we pitch and prioritise LGBTQIA+ stories? What about those people who may not have the same life experience as us? Who might not see our stories as critical to the news agenda?

If you’re comfortable being ‘out’ in the workplace, your first step could be requesting a meeting with your editor about your outlet’s LGBTQIA+ coverage. If you get it, come prepared.

Be prepared, and topical

Draw on timely stories in the UK, like the fight for comprehensive conversion therapy, or the Church of Scotland accepting same-sex marriage.

They’re reasons to assign a dedicated LGBTQIA+ reporter, or work on a queer-focused calendar looking forward to key legislation dates.

Use statistics (and talk about money)

Arm yourself with statistics; 2.7% of the UK is LGB according to the ONS, which represents a significant potential readership.

There is also an economic reason for bosses to uplift queer employees, with research showing that a diverse workforce can increase productivity and creativity.

Personally, I made notes in content meetings to figure out if a story needed a queer angle – for example, any specific struggles for the LGBTQIA+ community during the pandemic – and tried to voice those notes where possible.

During the run-up to the 2019 general election, for example, I interviewed trans and non-binary candidates to add queer voices to that national conversation.

Find your fellow queers

Finding your community in the newsroom is also a great way to diversify coverage; every time I’ve started a new job I’ve been anxious about the idea of ‘coming out’, then found that I’m seldom the only queer staff member.

UK newsrooms are over 87% white (NCTJ), 51% privately educated (Full Fact), and have faced criticism for transphobia and homophobia even in the present day.

Just a few months ago, a UN group described some media coverage of the monkeypox outbreak as “racist and homophobic”.

I have seen first-hand that newsroom culture is changing. However, it can still be difficult to navigate and lead to feelings of imposter syndrome and burnout.

It will take writers and editors alike to keep up the momentum of positive change, but prioritising quality queer journalism can transform newsrooms for good.

As part of our commitment to the sector, QueerAF has partnered with the LGBTQ+ Journalism Network to run this 'Journalist Like Me' content series and help develop a thriving network of queer media professionals.
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