Louisville Courier-Journal offers a case study in biased media coverage of same-sex marriage

Here at GetReligion, we advocate a traditional American model of journalism — one that relies on a fair, impartial reporting of news.

Last week, I highlighted the difficulty that some media organizations experienced applying that concept to the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in favor of same-sex marriage:

After I wrote that post, I came across a Louisville Courier-Journal story that epitomizes the biased nature of many reports on this subject.

Let's start at the top of this puffy profile of a Baptist pastor who supports same-sex marriage:

The Rev. Jason Crosby, a controversial local Baptist gay rights advocate whose church was kicked out of the Kentucky Southern Baptist Convention last year for agreeing to officiate same-sex marriages, spent the weekend celebrating.
"This has been more of an emotional journey for me than I'd ever have imagined," said the Rev. Jason Crosby, the pastor of Crescent Hill Baptist Church, one hour after the Supreme Court ruled Friday in the favor of allowing same-sex couples to legally marry across the country. "I can't even begin to imagine how elated people must be feeling today, after the grueling times they've endured."
Crosby said four couples got in touch with him — within minutes of the historic ruling Friday — to ask if they could marry in the church, 2800 Frankfort Ave. "I'm thrilled we've opened the door to more joy. We've opened the floodgates to celebrate the love that people find in different ways."
Crescent Hill is one of two Baptist churches in Louisville that were dismissed from the Southern Baptist Convention for their welcoming position on homosexuals last year. Constant in his position despite the rejection and hatred from his own churchmen, Crosby started conducting gay marriages last November.

Did you catch that last sentence?: Constant in his position despite the rejection and hatred from his own churchmen ...


Is that really the right word?

Do Southern Baptists who object to Crosby's doctrinal stance "hate" him? Keep reading, and yes, that's the term Crosby uses. But what do Kentucky Baptists leaders say? The Courier-Journal doesn't bother to contact any of them for this.

Instead, in an apparent attempt to appear to provide balance (false balance?), the newspaper refers to past statements by supporters of traditional marriage between one man and one woman:

Not everyone agrees with Crosby's stance.
The Courier-Journal previously reported that the Rev. Charles Elliott, pastor of King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church, a large black congregation near 16th Street and West Broadway, said he believes same-sex marriage is an "abomination and a sin" and that marriage should be between a man and woman.
Elliott is not alone is his thoughts. Earlier this month, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention — the nation's largest Protestant denomination — vowed to never officiate at a same-sex union, the Courier-Journal previously reported. "We do not need to redefine what God himself has defined already," Pastor Ronnie Floyd said at the group's annual meeting.

Previously reported? Does the Courier-Journal not have time to seek fresh quotes from same-sex marriage opponents? Certainly, the newspaper had plenty of time — and space — to revisit Crosby. Moreover, the story is about a formerly Southern Baptist church. Does it not seem strange that the opponent quoted first is from a Missionary Baptist church? (I suppose there's a chance the Missionary Baptist church is a part of the SBC, but the church's history page doesn't mention it.)

Is there any chance an editor was trying to add some balance (false balance?) to this story late at night? I have no idea, but I wonder. The story itself links to the reporter's Twitter feed. That feed is filled with tweets celebrating the Supreme Court's decision:

Am I suggesting that the Courier-Journal shouldn't write about Crosby? No. Not at all.

But I am saying that the newspaper — if it desires any journalistic credibility at all — ought to produce an actual piece of journalism. Instead, it threw a party for one side.

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