That's particularly true when the byline atop the story belongs to David Crary, a New York-based AP national writer who covers social issues. Think Kellerism — reporting in which certain "settled" matters are declared unworthy of balanced coverage.
With all of the above in mind, AP's — and Crary's — treatment of new adoption laws protecting faith-based providers in Texas and South Dakota should surprise no one paying attention:
With tens of thousands of children lingering in foster care across the United States, awaiting adoption, Illinois schoolteachers Kevin Neubert and Jim Gorey did their bit. What began with their offer to briefly care for a newborn foster child evolved within a few years into the adoption of that little boy and all four of his older siblings who also were in foster care.
The story of their two-dad, five-kid family exemplifies the potential for same-sex couples to help ease the perennial shortfall of adoptive homes for foster children. Yet even as more gays and lesbians adopt, some politicians seek to protect faith-based adoption agencies that object to placing children in such families.
Sweeping new measures in Texas and South Dakota allow state-funded agencies to refuse to place children with unmarried or gay prospective parents because of religious objections. A newly introduced bill in Congress would extend such provisions nationwide.
A fair, full treatment of the subject matter would approach the laws impartially. Such coverage would give both supporters and opponents an opportunity to make their best case. It would seek advocate and expert insight — not to mention relevant numerical data — into whether the measures will result in more or fewer children receiving permanent homes.
But AP approaches the story almost entirely from the perspective of gay parents. The wire service (Crary specifically) seems uninterested in questioning whether protecting the sincere religious beliefs of faith-based foster and adoption providers actually will allow more children to find homes.
Please don't misunderstand me: I'm not suggesting at all that AP should quote faith-based providers instead of gay-rights advocates. Rather, I'm arguing that this is a complicated issue with passionate, articulate voices on both sides — and if AP is truly interested in providing unbiased news coverage, it should do a much better job of demonstrating it.
Instead, until almost the very end, the AP story reads more like an LGBTQ advocacy group news release than an actual news story produced by an independent news organization.
More than 850 words into the roughly 1,000-word, inverted-pyramid story, AP finally gives some sketchy details on the other side:
Catholic Charities, which does child-welfare work nationwide, says it seeks to ensure that the children it places in adoptive homes “enjoy the advantage of having a mother and a father who are married. ”
In some jurisdictions, authorities have said Catholic Charities must serve same-sex couples. Rather than comply, Catholic Charities shut down adoption services in Massachusetts, Illinois, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
Bethany Christian Services, which provides adoption and foster-care services in more than 30 states, says its religious principles preclude serving same-sex couples directly, but it routinely refers them to LGBT-supportive agencies.
“When we meet with them, we’re very respectful,” said Bethany’s president, Bill Blacquiere. “We want them to have all the rights any citizen has, including the right to be adoptive or foster parents.”
There's a perfectly legitimate story here, one I'd love to read.
However, AP has focused on only one side. And — in an age of all-time low public confidence in the mainstream media — the wire service has done nothing to boost its own credibility.
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