On Feb. 15, over 180 New York Times contributors wrote an open letter expressing concern of editorial bias in the paper’s recent coverage of transgender and gender-diverse people. Citing numerous examples of homophobic and transphobic reporting in the paper’s recent history, the letter expressed disappointment with the Times for “(following) the lead of far-right hate groups in presenting gender diversity as a new controversy warranting new, punitive legislation.”
Since then, the letter has been signed by over 30,000 media workers, subscribers and readers of the New York Times.
On the same day, GLAAD, the largest LGBTQ+ media advocacy organization, published a similar letter, signed by over 100 organizations and individuals. The GLAAD letter called the Times’ coverage of trans and gender-diverse people in the past year “irresponsible” and “biased” and said the Times “has repeatedly platformed cisgender (non-transgender) people spreading inaccurate and harmful misinformation about transgender people and issues.”
Notably, the letters called attention to the use of the New York Times’ journalism by state lawmakers and attorneys across the nation, citing instances in Texas, Arkansas and Nebraska in which state lawmakers cited various Times articles in their legal justifications behind anti-trans healthcare legislation.
In solidarity with the letter’s signatories, GLAAD and LGBTQ+ people everywhere, we are calling on ASU to end the University’s institutional subscription to the New York Times immediately.
In the context of other social movements and addressing attacks on marginalized communities, we believe divestment strategies are an effective and impactful method of applying public pressure to organizations that are perpetuating harm. We believe now is an appropriate time for ASU — and other universities — to divest from the New York Times and encourage the paper to correct its editorial bias in regards to coverage of trans and gender-diverse individuals.
There are members of this publication who are queer and navigate a political reality that is, in part, shaped by the rhetoric disseminated in the Times, which can seep into local journalism as well. We have family, friends and fellow State Press Magazine staff members who are trans and gender-diverse. We are highly concerned with the New York Times' coverage of LGBTQ+ people, sources and issues at a time of escalating homophobic and transphobic legislation and violence in the U.S.
As student journalists, we take the editorial standard of minimizing harm — enshrined in the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics — extremely seriously. When the New York Times’ coverage of trans individuals is used to justify discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being enacted across the country, it is clear that the paper has failed to uphold this core ethical principle.
In Arizona, the American Civil Liberties Union is currently tracking 11 anti-LGBTQ+ bills advancing in the state Legislature, including SB 1001, which would ban public school teachers from using students' preferred name and pronouns without parental permission and would allow teachers to cite “religious or moral convictions” as legal justification for deliberately misgendering students. Last year, Arizona’s then-governor signed SB 1138, which criminalizes gender-affirming surgeries for minors, and SB 1165, which discriminates against transgender student athletes, into law. The civil rights of trans and gender-diverse people in Arizona — particularly children — are in crisis.
ASU’s charter asserts the University is “measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes” and assumes “fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.” In continuing its institutional subscription to the New York Times, we believe ASU fails to live up to its charter by financially legitimizing the paper’s repeatedly and demonstrably biased and harmful coverage of LGBTQ+ people.
Instead of holding an institutional subscription to the New York Times, ASU could invest in subscriptions to local news outlets covering the Valley and broader Arizona, publications focused on LGBTQ+ issues and advocacy and outlets that work to dismantle internal biases similar to those of the Times.
We encourage other student media organizations across the U.S. to call for their respective universities to do the same.
The editors of State Press Magazine
Greta Forslund — Executive Editor, The State Press
Sam Ellefson — Editor-in-Chief, State Press Magazine
Camila Pedrosa — Managing Editor, State Press Magazine
Alexis Moulton — Managing Editor, State Press Magazine
Biplove Baral — Design Editor, State Press Magazine
Sydney Huyge — Engagement Editor, State Press Magazine
Piper Hansen — Editor-in-Chief, The State Press
Andrew Onodera — Multimedia Director, The State Press
Sophia Balasubramanian — Diversity Officer, The State Press
Kate Duffy — Opinion Editor, The State Press
Kathryn Field — Sports Editor, The State Press
Annie Graziano — Science and Tech Editor, The State Press
Sonya Sheptunov — Podcast Editor, The State Press
Reagan Priest — Managing Editor, The State Press
Sadie Buggle — Community Editor, The State Press
Jasmine Kabiri — Managing Editor, The State Press
Claire van Doren — The Echo Editor, The State Press
Caera Learmonth — Digital Producer, The State Press
Kiersten Moss — Photo Editor, The State Press
Reece Andrews — Multimedia Managing Editor
Aaron Stigile — Opinion Columnist, The State Press
Sophia Ramirez — Science and Tech Reporter, The State Press
Shri Swaminathan — Science and Tech Reporter, The State Press
Liz Villar — Illustrator, The State Press
Claire Geare — Satirist, State Press Magazine
Keetra Bippus — Reporter, State Press Magazine
Sam McGee — Opinion Columnist, The State Press
Calvin Stewart — Photographer, The State Press
Leah Mesquita — Reporter, State Press Magazine
Madeline Nguyen — Reporter, State Press Magazine
Tori Gantz — Politics Reporter, The State Press
Abigail Beck — Reporter, State Press Magazine
Michael Piscopo — The Echo Reporter, The State Press
Analisa Valdez — The Echo Reporter, The State Press
Mia Osmonbekov — Opinion Columnist, The State Press
Richard Parker — Community Reporter, The State Press
Gillian McComeskey — The Echo Reporter, The State Press