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Manfull: How reporters handle homophobia

BY ERIN MANFULL | APRIL 10, 2015 5:00 AM

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We live in a society where being politically correct is a requirement if you wish to be a public figure. Journalists and those in the media endure public shaming and ridicule, and often lose their jobs, if a comment made was seen as improper or offensive.

But what if it were the other way around? It is the first and foremost job of the media to be the teller of tales, and generate stories to portray to the public- in a non-biased way. However, since we live in such a society that puts heavy emphasis on being politically correct, what should a reporter do if they’re faced with a homophobic comment? Should they ignore it? Skim over it? Cut it out?

Brazilian ESPN reporter, Gabriela Moreira, did what she felt she had to: she shut down the comment right in front of the camera.

Moreira was interviewing a Palmeiras fan at a soccer game, and after the fan made an aggressive homophobic comment about the opponent, Moreira’s eyes widened and after the shake of her head she replied, “Boy, I don’t know if you will win- but no to homophobia”.  She then went on to ask the fan, “How old are you, 25? Please…lets try to… modernize this thought.”

I thought that was a pretty amazing comeback to an unnecessary comment. After her interview, Moreira went to Twitter to clarify her comment, saying that the press shouldn’t be a vehicle for any kind of prejudice.

Unfortunately, “modernizing” against homophobia hasn’t occurred everywhere. Indiana has really taken a step back from the modernization of gay rights. With their new “religious freedom” law, Indiana has been taking a lot of heat from gay rights advocates nation wide (even entire states restricted state-sponsored travel to the Hoosier state, though most of those bans have been lifted).

However, unlike Moreira’s response, David Badash of the New Civil Rights Movement took an un-biased approach to the story. Obviously, the new law has stirred up quite the controversy, but Badash found a little pizza parlor in Indiana that refused to cater same-sex weddings (because this new law allows them to do so on grounds of religion).

After the family told a reporter that they would not cater a same-sex wedding, the family-run pizza parlor took a review beating on their Yelp and Facebook pages resulting in the business closing for a few days until the dust settled around the controversial comment against the gay community.   

The difference between the Moreira and Badash is they way they portrayed their message. Moreira was on live TV, her response warranted an immediate reaction and an immediate shut down to the homophobic comment. Badash had time to create a story and show how the “religious freedom” law has actually been affecting not only the gay community, but also the community as a whole.

In a way, Badash set up the story in a way for the readers to create their own thoughts on the subject. Although the media for should absolutely remain unbiased the majority of the time, I think Moreira has a very modernized point when she said that there’s no room for the media be a vehicle for any kind of prejudice.


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