Launching Inqlusive Newsrooms to help Indian media cover LGBTQIA+ persons responsibly and accurately
February 24, 2023: Most mainstream newsrooms in India have historically underreported and often misreported the identities, stories and issues of LGBTQIA+ persons. The coverage continues to ignore us and the language dehumanises us. On rare occasions when newsrooms do report about LGBTQIA+ persons, the stories tend to be event based such as Pride march or court orders, or they focus on gory crimes against queer persons or are voyeuristic in nature. That is partly because many newsrooms, irrespective of the language they publish in, are overrepresented by cis-heterosexual persons, especially the newsroom leaders, who decide what gets covered, in what way, and whose voices are uplifted. This lack of inclusivity in newsrooms reflects in the poor and insensitive coverage of LGBTQIA+ persons.
In order to help the Indian media ecosystem become inclusive of and sensitive towards LGBTQIA+ individuals and identities, three organisations — The News Minute, Queer Chennai Chronicles, and queerbeat — have come together to launch a project called Inqlusive Newsrooms. The project is supported by Google News Initiative.
“Inqlusive Newsrooms is an effort by a team of queer persons to move the media away from the gore-and-spectacle model of reporting about us, and help the Indian news ecosystem tell our stories with the dignity that we deserve. Many of us working on this project are journalists and writers, and each of us, in our own personal and professional spheres, has worked on expanding the way the society talks about us, views our issues,” says Ragamalika Karthikeyan, Editor – Special Projects & Experiments at The News Minute. “In the process, we would also like newsrooms to be spaces where queer individuals do not feel the need to hide their true selves in order to be taken seriously as journalists,” she adds.
Inqlusive Newsrooms will roll out in stages through 2023. First, a glossary of LGBTQIA+ terms already prepared by The New Minute and Queer Chennai Chronicles in English and Tamil will be localised in Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi and Marathi. The project will then create LGBTQIA+ Media Reference Guide in English, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi and Marathi. The glossary and the guide will help newsrooms and journalists understand how to report and write about LGBTQIA+ individuals respectfully and accurately, while maintaining journalistic rigour.
“One of the focus areas of Queer Chennai Chronicles has been to curate LGBTQIA+ terms in Tamil. The idea is to provide media persons with the right terms that queer persons use to identify and express themselves. When we started working on the LGBTQIA+ Media Reference Guide, we made sure that the guide takes into account the intersectional identities we all come with, and that the guide stays relevant in each language it is localised into,” says Moulee, Co-Founder of Queer Chennai Chronicles. “We are using the terms “curate” and “localise” consciously to make sure that the guide or the queer terms are not merely translated from one language to another. Instead they are taken from linguistic and cultural perspectives of queer persons who speak that language,” he adds.
To further support the media, Inqlusive Newsrooms will conduct training workshops for journalists, including reporters, editors and newsroom leaders, on how to cover LGBTQIA+ persons across the country, in multiple languages.
There is more. The project will also launch story fellowships for journalists interested in following LGBTQIA+ issues, and mentor the fellows in pursuing these stories. “The LGBTQIA+ glossary, the media guide, and training workshops will empower newsrooms and journalists to tell stories in which LGBQTIA+ persons are able to see themselves as they are,” says Ankur Paliwal, founder and editor of queerbeat. “Our hope is that these stories will generate public conversations that will widen spaces in which queer persons are seen and treated as equals.”
“At Google News Initiative, we are committed to strengthen inclusion and constantly strive to further empower a diverse news ecosystem. This effort by The News Minute is a step in the right direction and will go a long way to create a more representative and inclusive news industry and will benefit a wide range of news publishers in India. In order to build a stronger future for news, it’s critical to ensure that every community has a voice and our newsrooms and news stories reflect the diversity of the world we live in,” said Surabhi Malik, Google News Lab Lead for India.
About the partners
The News Minute (TNM) is a news organisation focussed on reporting about south India, from south India. Since 2014, TNM has been at the forefront of reporting sensitively on LGBTQIA+ issues in the country. The organisation has a queer person in an editorial leadership position, and has carefully cultivated best practices for reporting and editing on LGBTQIA+ lives and rights. The editorial team at The News Minute is one of the most diverse in the country, and one of our editorial policies is to platform the voices the society ignores.
Queer Chennai Chronicles (QCC) is an independent publishing house and literary forum. QCC was started in the aim to highlight LGBTQIA+ writers, translators and authors, and to make the existing literary space and media reporting queer inclusive. QCC is the organiser of India’s first Queer LitFest, which brings together allies and queer literary personas. QCC also works with various media houses and corporations to create inclusive guidelines on reporting, workplace inclusion strategies and implementation processes.
queerbeat is an independent collaborative journalism initiative focused on transforming the public conversation about LGBTQIA+ people in India by deeply and accurately covering the historically underserved queer persons, in their voice. It is a collective of queer journalists and editors who collaborate with newsrooms to present a bold, intersectional and authentic coverage of LGBTQIA+ people. Our goal is to make Indian media and its coverage queer inclusive.