A Better St. Louis. Powered by Journalism.
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Print
  • Email

Reporting on race and sexuality can shed light or spread heat

In Beacon Blog

12:17 am on Fri, 02.15.13

Dear Beaconites -

You can't find subjects more incendiary than race and sexuality. This week, the Beacon dealt with both in ways intended to shed light, not spread heat.

Race in the St. Louis mayor's race was the focus of Beacon reporter Robert Joiner's analysis, posted Thursday as part of an ongoing series on issues. Though city voters will decide this contest, what happens matters to the region as a whole. Bob's story had been in the works for weeks when a recent flyer that portrays Mayor Francis Slay as a "slayve" owner lit a fire under the issue of race.

Race influences many aspects of life in our region, but discussing it can be difficult. Typically, the issue simmers on the backburner of public debate, boiling over periodically in controversies such as this one. In our five years of operation, the Beacon has tried to change that pattern -- to recognize that race is an ongoing subtext in many discussions, to decode what's being said and to explore facts and context that can inform attitudes. In other words, we've tried to lay the groundwork for progress.

Bob dug into the controversy around the flyer. He also looked deeply at how and why race is a factor in the three-way contest among Slay, aldermanic president Lewis Reed and former alderman Jimmie Matthews.

In addition to Bob's reporting, Beacon General Manager Nicole Hudson Hollway and voices section contributor Kira Hudson Banks appeared on KMOX to talk about how to talk about race. Kira, who is Nicole's sister, is on the faculty of Saint Louis University's psychology department, and her academic specialty is race. In coming weeks, Kira will use her column to encourage further reflection and discussion about race in the Beacon.

Sexuality and gender are the focus of Beacon reporter Nancy Fowler's extraordinary four-part series, Beyond the Gender Box. The series, which will conclude next week, explores the profound change underway in attitudes -- both the public opinion shift toward equal treatment and the personal transformations taking place.

"In the past — in public, at least — these terms [sexuality and gender] had strict meanings and defined social roles," the series explains. "But now more of society sees their meanings on a continuum, and expects people to choose for themselves where they fit in."

In addition to assessing overall trends, the series shares the personal stories of Leon Braxton, Kelly Hamilton and William Copeland. Their candor -- and humor -- are remarkable. Their experiences raise questions many of us might not have thought to ask about this fundamental aspect of human identity. We're grateful to these St. Louisans for trusting the Beacon to tell their life stories.

When covering controversial topics such as sexuality and race, news organizations have many options. Their choices are a revealing test of character. Some opt for sensationalism and emphasize the bizarre. Some opt for sizzle and report charge and countercharge without exploring substance.

The Beacon was founded expressly to explore difficult issues in a forthright, sensitive and perceptive manner. Race and gender are fundamental aspects of human identity that have huge implications for all of us, individually and collectively. In their thoughtful exploration of those implications, Bob and Nancy this week demonstrated the essence of the Beacon's character.




No Comments

Join The Beacon

When you register with the Beacon, you can save your searches as news alerts, rsvp for events, manage your donations and receive news and updates from the Beacon team.

Register Now

Already a Member

Getting around the new site

Take a look at our tutorials to help you get the hang of the new site.

Most Discussed Articles By Beacon Members

Conference of American nuns will mull response to Vatican charges

In Nation

7:55 am on Fri, 08.03.12

Meeting in St. Louis next week, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will have its first opportunity as an assembled group to consider what to do after the Vatican issued a mandate for change this spring. It calls on the conference to reorganize and more strictly observe church teachings.

The 'free' Zoo

In Commentary

7:51 am on Tue, 05.22.12

When a family of four goes to the St. Louis Zoo, they can be forgiven for not knowing it will cost them $60, $72 if they park. If they can't pay, the alternative is to tell the kids they can't do what kids do at the zoo.

Featured Articles

House sends Boeing incentive bill to Nixon

In Economy

12:55 pm on Fri, 12.06.13

The Missouri House easily passed legislation aimed at attracting production of the 777x, a move that wraps up a legislative special session that saw little suspense and few surprises. The bill now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon, who has strongly supported the legislation.

Gandhi inspired Mandela on South Africa's 'Long Road to Freedom'

In World

10:10 am on Fri, 12.06.13

Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95, was a towering moral figure of the 20th century -- along with Mahatma Gandhi. It was no coincidence that Gandhi and Mandela, whose paths never crossed directly, both embarked on their campaigns against discrimination in South Africa. It was when Mandela won election as South Africa’s first black president that Gandhi's influence became apparent.

Featured Articles

Regina Carter brings jazz and therapy to Children's Hospital

6:36 am on Mon, 12.09.13

One night, the violinist is taking bows before a standing ovation at Jazz at the Bistro. The next afternoon, some of her audience may have trouble standing, but the kids in the playroom at Children's Hospital were no less appreciative. “Jazz is medicine personified," according to a doctor who brings in the jazz musicians.

Encore: Dead before death

In Performing Arts

12:58 am on Fri, 12.06.13

For years , the author was certain he would never come to appreciate The Grateful Dead, let alone be a Deadhead. But little by little, he's come around. He talks about his conversion and relates a real evolution: by a musician who went on to play with the Schwag, a Dead cover band.

Featured Articles

Schlichter honored with St. Louis Award

In Region

4:57 pm on Tue, 12.03.13

The attorney has founded Arch Grants, which brings together nonprofit philanthropy and commercially viable opportunitiesto fund new business startups, and Mentor St. Louis, which finds adult mentors for elementary students in the St. Louis Public School System. He was the driving force behind the state's historic tax credit program.

BioGenerator sets open house to celebrate new digs for entrepreneurs-in-residence

In InnovationSTL

12:29 pm on Tue, 11.12.13

BioSTL's BioGenerator organization is on the move as its entrepreneurs-in-residence find a new home in 4,300 square feet of office and conference space in an old automobile factory. The blossoming program, which helps BioGenerator's portfolio companies to get off the ground, continues to pay dividends within the growing biotech community.

Ambassadors aim to soften rough landing for St. Louis immigrants

In InnovationSTL

6:34 am on Fri, 11.08.13

The St. Louis Mosaic Project is set to hold an orientation for its new ambassadors -- dozens of foreign and native-born volunteers who aim to help make the community a more welcoming place for those from other nations. Participants will be expected to do everything from visiting local restaurants serving international cuisine to having dinner with an immigrant to the area.

Recent Articles

More Articles

Innovation and entrepreneurial activity are on the rise in St. Louis, especially in bioscience, technology and alternative energy. The Beacon's InnovationSTL section focuses on the people who are part of this wave, what they're doing and how this is shaping our future. To many St. Louisans, this wave is not yet visible. InnovationSTL aims to change that. We welcome you to share your knowledge, learn more about this vibrant trend and discuss its impact.

Featured Articles

Regina Carter brings jazz and therapy to Children's Hospital

6:36 am on Mon, 12.09.13

One night, the violinist is taking bows before a standing ovation at Jazz at the Bistro. The next afternoon, some of her audience may have trouble standing, but the kids in the playroom at Children's Hospital were no less appreciative. “Jazz is medicine personified," according to a doctor who brings in the jazz musicians.

Featured Articles

Featured Events:

Upcoming Events

View Full Calendar

More About The Beacon Home