Badpuppy Gay Today

Friday, 23 March 1998

GLAAD TALKS WITH ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

Newspaper's Publishing Names of Men Arrested in Park Raids at Issue
Arrestee's Suicide Had Failed to Change Senseless "Naming" Policy

By Don Romesburg
GLAAD Publications Manager

 

Recently, GLAAD Executive Director Joan M. Garry had a productive conversation with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's publisher, Walter Hussman, following the paper's repeated publishing of the names of those arrested in police raids of men seeking sex with other men in public parks.

The practice of publishing the names, which Hussman defended as "consistent" with the editorial policy, continued even after one man committed suicide because his name was published.

In a March 16 letter following their phone conversation, GLAAD requested the newspaper reconsider the policy of printing the names of men arrested for misdemeanor sex crimes.

"You began our conversation indicating that you felt as if your organization was being misrepresented as 'anti-gay,' and pointed to a history of support on your pages," said Garry in the letter. "You pointed to the [paper's] criticism of the arcane [Arkansas] sodomy laws....We at GLAAD applaud you for recognizing that laws and policies must be scrutinized continuously and altered when that scrutiny uncovers flaws.

"The Democrat Gazette would be well advised to consider an evaluation on its editorial policy in this light. I appreciated your thoughtful interpretation and defense of your policy but see all too clearly that this policy (like the sodomy laws) is seriously flawed and requires a change....When you answered the question 'how was the public interest served by printing the man's name?' with 'It was in keeping with our editorial policy,' I did not find that a compelling response. The gentleman's suicide note was infinitely more compelling to me. It is our obligation to make our community aware of injustice wherever it exists.

"But we also inform our community of media outlets striving for fairness. We would love to count the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette among the latter."

Please politely encourage the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette to review their editorial policy.

Contact:

Walter E. Hussman, Jr., Publisher, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
121 E. Capital, Little Rock, AR 72201-5734,
phone: 501.378.3485
fax: 501.372.3908
e-mail: news@ardemgaz.com

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