Friday, June 17, 2016

NYT Buried 1980 NYC Gay Bar Massacre on Page B1

The world's most influential newspaper, the New York Times, for decades sowed hatred of and significantly contributed to the demonization and devaluation of LGBT lives, damage that extends to today despite radical pro-gay changes at the Gray Lady.

Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr's metro desk on June 16 ran a piece by gay reporter David W. Dunlap about the Manhattan gay Ramrod Bar massacre on November 19, 1980, that left two dead and six folks wounded. The headline yesterday was "New York's Own Gay Massacre, Now Barely Recalled."

Well, it was barely covered by the Times so it's not surprising so few remember or are aware of this mass shooting.

Dunlap quoted gay media observer and write Edward M. Allwood, author of "Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media," and cited a passage from his book detailing the murder Greenwich Village murder scene. No mention made by Dunlap regarding the lousy Times coverage back then, as Allwood wrote. Here's what Dunlap overlooked from "Straight News":

"When copies of the New York Times arrived at newsstands at dawn, the only mention of the shooting was on the bottom of page one, where a single-column box directed readers to page B1.

"In many newspapers, mass murder would merit a banner headline.

"The Times, however, gave the story secondary priority and put the article by veteran crime reporter Josh Barbanel on the front of its local news section.

"'No one called up eighty-five editors and had a meeting about how the story was handled," Barbanel recalled. 'The thing happened late in the evening. The deaths didn't happen all at once. It wasn't a finished polished story that happened at five o'clock at night. These are factors that go into the eight million decisions that are made in the course of night at a newspaper. It was put on page B-one, which is the second most prominent place in a newspaper.'"

The single mention of the Times by Dunlap yesterday was a reference to their story about eight months after the killings, on page A20, titled “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals."

Good of the Times to remind and educate readers about the Ramrod gay bar massacre, but the paper needs to be spanked for omitting their shameful under-playing of the 1980 tragedy. Yes, the Times could always do better in acknowledging its woeful history. I think Dunlap - out gay longer than anyone at the paper - is doing a better job than most in covering our lives now.

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