Washington, DC -- Two marches. Both were historic. Both drew hundreds of thousands of supporters -- African American to one, gay and lesbian to the other. Yet Americans were five times more likely to read about the 1995 Million Man March in major national and regional newspapers than the 1993 Gay Rights March on Washington, according to a new survey by a gay and lesbian media watch group.
"The expansive coverage of the Million Man March shed light on the lives, hopes, and dreams of the African-Americans who participated. Equal coverage of the April 1993 Gay Rights March On Washington would have given Americans a similar understanding of our community," said William Waybourn, Managing Director of GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. GLAAD recently completed a comparison of the newspaper coverage of both historic events and found striking differences.
According to official National Park Service estimates, both marches drew roughly 400,000 participants; however, organizers of both events put the number of attendees much higher. Yet, while attendance was comparable, the GLAAD survey revealed a tremendous disparity in the number of stories in major newspapers that each march generated. In the one week period before and after each event, the Million Man March was the subject of over 1,650 stories, while the March On Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Rights was the subject of only 349--a five to one ratio.
"We found that for each story written on the Gay Rights March, the Million Man March generated five," Waybourn said. "GLAAD views the coverage given the Million Man March with both envy and disappointment. Had the lesbian and gay community been viewed as equally newsworthy and received comparable coverage, the country would have had the opportunity to receive a tremendous amount of information regarding the vitally important contributions gays and lesbians make to every facet of our society," according to Waybourn.
"In story after story, readers learned about the feelings of the Million Man marchers, about their desires to end discrimination and bigotry, and about their collective ambitions for the African-American community. It was impressive coverage. Equal coverage for our march could have benefited the gay and lesbian community and the nation as a whole," Waybourn said.
GLAAD, a national organization with offices in Washington, New York, Los Angeles, and Portland, serves as a voice for the gay and lesbian community.
GLAAD works to promote, fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of individuals and events in all media as a means of combating homophobia and all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity. GLAAD's survey was conducted using Lexis/Nexis, to identify stories from 38 major newspapers and magazines that appeared one week before and after each event.
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