shame list

'Shame List' sequel: Why reporting both sides is not propaganda but — yes — journalism

'Shame List' sequel: Why reporting both sides is not propaganda but — yes — journalism

So, I dinged the Charlotte Observer pretty hard yesterday.

I criticized the North Carolina newspaper's biased coverage of a "Shame List" of religious colleges and universities that espouse traditional biblical beliefs on sexuality and gender identity.

As I noted, the paper served more as a stenographer than a reporter in its copy-and-paste coverage of the gay-rights organization's publicity-seeking list.

Welp, that post sparked a lively discussion.

Some of those comments strike at the heart of what we do here at GetReligion. So I decided to highlight that dialogue to make sure readers didn't miss it. At least five questions emerged that I'll tackle below.

1. Is the "Shame List" news?

I avoided that question in my original post, choosing to focus on the coverage itself. However, a reader named Linda felt compelled to suggest this:

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Absolute worst newspaper: Why this one goes on 'Shame List' for journalism malpractice

Absolute worst newspaper: Why this one goes on 'Shame List' for journalism malpractice

And the winner — er, loser — is: the Charlotte Observer.

Congrats to that "newspaper" (scare quotes intentional) for its abysmal coverage of the latest publicity-seeking "Shame List" produced by the gay-rights organization Campus Pride.

It's difficult to imagine that Campus Pride — which targets higher education schools that espouse traditional biblical beliefs on sexuality and gender identity — could buy a more one-sided, biased treatment than the Observer gave it for (one assumes) free.

The "reporter" even included a #gaypride hashtag when he tweeted the story.

Let's brush aside, for the purposes of this post, whether the "Shame List" is actually news. For the sake of argument, we'll stipulate that it is. After all, the Charlotte Observer wasn't the only regional newspaper nationwide that took the bait: Others included the Dallas Morning News, the Oregonian and the Salt Lake Tribune.

So if it is news, what would be the fairest, most accurate way for a journalistically responsible news organization to report the list's release? We'll get to the answer in a moment.

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