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The Battle over MarriageGay Rights Activism through the Media$
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Leigh Moscowitz

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038129

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038129.001.0001

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date: 13 December 2017

Gay Marriage Goes Prime-Time

Gay Marriage Goes Prime-Time

Journalistic Norms Frame the Debate

Chapter:
(p.77) 4. Gay Marriage Goes Prime-Time
Source:
The Battle over Marriage
Author(s):

Leigh Moscowitz

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252038129.003.0004

This chapter examines the storytelling techniques that were used by journalists to produce the gay marriage issue for prime-time news audiences in 2003–2004, including labeling, framing, sourcing, imagery, and graphics. It discusses the discursive strategies employed by mainstream media to create conflict in the news; how sensationalist labels and descriptive language were used in news stories to validate historic homophobic discourses; and how privileging dominant political and religious sources worked to dichotomize the debate and silence moderate perspectives. It also explores how standard journalistic frames organized the same-sex marriage debate within “official” institutions of power. The chapter argues that journalistic definitions of authority, expertise, and “balance” created an uneven playing field, often pitting gay and lesbian spokespersons against unequal sources of influence from legal, medical, religious, and political authorities. It also shows how media coverage reduced the broader gay rights agenda to a single-issue movement and rarely gave gays and lesbians—almost always shown as couples—the opportunity to offer their own perspectives on this important issue.

Keywords:   journalists, gay marriage, mainstream media, homophobic discourse, news stories, same-sex marriage, media coverage, gay rights, lesbians

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