PinkNews April 2012
|Slogan||Europe's Largest Gay News Service|
Type of site
|Created by||Benjamin Cohen|
Joseph Patrick McCormick
|Launched||July 21, 2005|
|24,472 (April 2015[update])|
PinkNews is a UK-based online newspaper marketed to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT). It was founded by Benjamin Cohen in 2005 and covers politics, religion, entertainment, finance, and community news for the LGBT community in the UK and worldwide. The current UK editor as of March 2015 is Nick Duffy.
It closely follows political progress on LGBT rights around the world, and carries interviews with cultural figures, politicians and British Prime Ministers. The news is split into different sections, with most recent, prominent and trending stories showing on the home page by default. People can filter news by the sections they have most interest in, including transgender, entertainment, world, politics, arts, and opinion.
The paper version, The Pink News was officially launched at the Law Society on 28 June 2006 by Francis Maude, Chairman of the Conservative Party, Meg Munn, Minister for Equality, Simon Hughes, President of the Liberal Democrats and Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch. It was suspended without explanation in early 2007 but the website continues to exist and is updated with news daily. Pinknews.co.uk was ranked the 7th most visited website in the UK in the Lifestyle - Gay and Lesbian category by Experian Hitwise in 2012, up from 9th in 2011.
PinkNews pays special attention to the topic of religion and homosexuality, and is often critical of the Vatican for its perceived hostility to the LGBT community. However, it became one of the few LGBT publications to have interviewed a sitting Archbishop of Canterbury in 2014, when Justin Welby discussed the Church of England's approach to homosexuality.
The editorial stance of PinkNews is not to campaign in a partisan manner, though they do interview politicians and have a pro-LGBT stance. Their site states that they will not endorse political parties in elections, but will endorse politicians regardless of party "based on their stance on gay rights issues." To date PinkNews has published articles by 3 British Prime Ministers: Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and David Cameron. PinkNews has also interviewed other political figures in the United Kingdom, including Boris Johnson and Nick Clegg.
News International legal threat
In 2006, PinkNews was threatened with legal action by News International, the parent company of the British newspapers The Sun and News of the World. Both newspapers published articles and a pixelated image between the 12 and 19 February 2006 of what they claimed were a Premiership footballer and a famous DJ engaging in a sex act with a mobile phone at a "gay orgy" with one using the headline "Gay as You Go". A week later PinkNews published what was claimed to be the unpixelated image from the Choice FM website superimposed on one from the printed articles in the newspapers, allegedly revealing the footballer as Ashley Cole and the DJ as Choice FM's Ian Thompson (DJ Masterstepz). Cole began legal action against both newspapers for libel, harassment and "false privacy" but not against PinkNews, who had never made claims that either were gay. PinkNews claimed they were trying to expose the tactics of the NotW rather than "out" anyone but this backfired as both newspapers threatened to sue under the Civil Liability Act. Cole's solicitors set up an online survey to investigate the impact, questioning respondents as to where they heard the story and if they discussed it in any forums. RWD Magazine allegedly had their forums shut down because of this.
Months later the NotW and The Sun agreed to pay damages of £100,000, which would have closed PinkNews, had they been indicted, and an apology was printed in the NotW stating: "Although the photograph was pixelated some readers have understood Mr Cole to be one of the footballers and Masterstepz to be the DJ concerned. We are happy to make clear that Mr Cole and Masterstepz were not involved in any such activities. We apologise to them for any distress caused and we will be paying them each a sum in the way of damages." News International confirmed afterwards they would not be seeking damages from PinkNews.
Backlash against Stonewall
PinkNews reported heavily on the refusal of Stonewall, an LGBT rights group, and Ben Summerskill, the Chief Executive, to actively campaign for marriage equality in September 2010. Summerskill argued "it would cost a staggering £5 billion to implement", which was rounded on by many and criticised as he had included heterosexual couples requesting civil partnerships for tax relief. He later changed his argument at a conference to "There are lots of lesbians who actually don't want marriage". This was attended by Lynne Featherstone, the minister for equality; Evan Harris, president of Liberal Democrat LGBT group DELGA; and Steve Gilbert, the Lib Dem MP, all of which said they support same-sex marriage and a poll commissioned by PinkNews and answered by more than 800 of their readership found 98% in support of marriage equality, with many comments calling for Summerskill's resignation. Stonewall was also criticized by a former founder, Michael Cashman, MEP, for the refusal. PinkNews was later accused of an "unethical campaign” against Stonewall after asking every LGBT organization and political group to outline their stance on the issue, with only Stonewall refusing to comment. Stonewall in October 2010 backed down and agreed to back same-sex marriage in the face of the backlash, stating "Stonewall is pleased to be widening its campaigning objectives to include extending the legal form of marriage to gay people".
Advertising and support
- PinkNews was an official supporter of the Coalition for Equal Marriage (C4EM), a counter-organization to the Coalition for Marriage, which successfully petitioned for the introduction of same-sex marriage rights in England and Wales, while the Coalition for Marriage is campaigning against it.
- Named January 25 as Peter Tatchell Day to celebrate the British political campaigner's 60th birthday, 45 years of human rights campaigning and 10 years since the launch of the Peter Tatchell Foundation. PinkNews also published a prose poem written by Stephen Fry in honour of his birthday on January 24 and frequently shows advertisements for the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
- On April 25, 2012 PinkNews began using a video for the Coalition for Equal Marriage in their advertising space, wrote articles in support of it and gave it their official backing, encouraging readers to respond to the government consultation to show their opinions.
- PinkNews regularly reported on the progress of the Out4Marriage campaign, which was started in May 2012 and launched by Mike Buonaiuto and PinkNews founder, Benjamin Cohen. The campaign used YouTube videos of people supporting equal marriage, including celebrities and Members of Parliament, finishing with the line "And that’s why I’m out for marriage. Are you?". The Out4Marriage YouTube campaign reached 14 million views in just 3 weeks from launch.
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