Whose benefit? Gay and lesbian journalists discuss outing, the individual, and the community

Journal of Mass Media Ethics 13 (1):14 – 25 (1998)


Through interviews with lesbian and gay journalists in Texas, the authors consider ethical decision making surrounding the phenomenon of outing. Outing is defined as the unauthorized mediated identification of gay and lesbian public figures who are not public about their sexual identih. This article discusses theoretical issues of ethics as they relate to the phenomenon of outing and applies that framework to the analysis of the interviews and a forum. The research found that in individual interviews journalists were more likely to discuss outing as it related to their personal lives and their identification with the lesbian and gay community. However, when brought together in a group, these same journalists tended to discuss outing as it applies to journalistic norms. This article concludes with a suggestion for research on the intersection between outing and AIDS.

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