Journalistic responsibility

By Bethany Reinhart

A provocative headline and the controversial content of a Nov. 2 article published in The Chronicle sparked the attention of many of our readers, and a handful of former Chronicle writers shared their opposition to

the article.

The article, titled “Ex-gays protest book bannings,” described a radical-minded group with a veiled agenda, whose mission, among other things, is to convince libraries nationwide to stock books that support their claims of gay-to-straight success stories.

Although the article provided substantial information about a group that I personally disagree with, it lacked an important viewpoint—within the scientific community, it is a widely accepted fact that homosexuality is not a choice. Most within the scientific community believe that gays are born with homosexual tendencies and that no one—and no book—can change them, even if the individual wants to.

Without such a viewpoint, the story could be interpreted as condoning the insulting idea that gays are sick individuals who make immoral choices.

When the article first crossed my desk, I had concerns about its content. Subscribing to the widely-held belief within the scientific community, I was fearful that this content could be misinterpreted or found offensive. Because of my initial reservation, I consulted with a member of the LGBT community regarding the article’s content. After consulting with him, I ultimately decided to publish this article because as he pointed out, it would be as much a disservice to the LGBT community to ignore the actions of such a group as it would be to inform our readers of its actions. By saying nothing, we would effectively be giving this group, and others like it, more power than they deserve. By publishing the article in a newspaper whose readership comprises of mostly progressive-minded individuals who subscribe to the same beliefs about homosexuality as the greater scientific community, we aimed to create a conversation about an issue that many people are unaware of.

While The Chronicle acknowledges that the viewpoint of the scientific community should have been included in the article, as Editor-in-Chief, I continue to stand by our decision to publish the article. Let me be clear that I do not agree with any of this group’s principles, nor do I condone their message. However, as journalists, we have an obligation to our readers to inform them about such groups.

As an editor, I can only hope that providing this information, despite how unpopular it may be, will serve as a catalyst for our readers and ultimately lead them to protest such organizations. At the very least, I hope this serves as an opportunity to start a dialogue among our readers. I invite you all to share your feedback with us. Let’s open up this conversation to include not only the voices of former staff members, but the larger Columbia community. We want to hear what you have to say.