The Google News Initiative is focusing on LGBTQIA+ representation in the news industry during Pride Month. As part of this focus, The News Minute in India is leading the Inqlusive Newsrooms project, which aims to change how LGBTQIA+ issues, individuals, and communities are covered by the media. The project’s partners include Queer Chennai Chronicles and queerbeat magazine.
The Inqlusive Newsrooms project began in 2021 when Queer Chennai Chronicles conducted their Chennai Queer LitFest. During a panel discussion on how the media reports queer issues, the question of whether newsrooms have style guides for covering queer issues came up. As there was no resource like this available at the time, the project’s participants decided to create one themselves. They started with an outline of a Media Reference Guide in English and Tamil and eventually expanded it to Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, and Hindi. They also conducted training sessions and created a fellowship program to mentor journalists who wanted to write queer stories.
The Inqlusive Newsrooms project also sent their glossary to the Madras High Court when the court was hearing the case of a lesbian couple seeking protection from their families. The court was giving progressive orders to help LGBTQIA+ communities, including a direction to the Tamil Nadu state government to come up with a list of dignified terms in Tamil that the media could use. The government ended up publishing a glossary in the state gazette, and 90% of it is what the Inqlusive Newsrooms project came up with.
The project partnered with the Google News Initiative, which helped them dream bigger and expand their work. They are currently working on creating networking and skill-building sessions for queer journalists in India to create more diversity inside Indian newsrooms.
As a queer journalist, Ragamalika Karthikeyan, an Editor at The News Minute, believes that her job is to speak truth to power and highlight the issues faced by marginalized communities. She also believes it’s a personal commitment to do this work. She grew up in a world that depicted LGBTQIA+ lives as a spectacle, and as a young journalist, she promised herself that she would break that status quo when she reached a decision-making capacity in a newsroom.
The Inqlusive Newsrooms project is a step towards creating a more inclusive news industry that gives voices to historically underrepresented communities. Although their work is far from done, they are making progress towards this goal every day. To learn more about their trainings and programs, visit their website.