Reputation survey: Media attitudes towards homosexuality

The Sun splashed on X Factor winner Joe McElderry coming out, but new research shows that the general public does not consider items on sexuality to be newsworthy any more.

Reputation survey: Media attitudes towards homosexuality
Reputation survey: Media attitudes towards homosexuality

The Sun may have been proud of its front-page scoop outing X Factor winner Joe McElderry on 31 July, but the general public seems to think the singer's sexuality is far from breaking news.

Nearly 50 per cent of the 3,000 respondents to PRWeek/OnePoll's latest survey said sexuality was no longer newsworthy, while a further 37 per cent said they had already assumed McElderry was gay. Just five per cent said they considered the story to be 'news'.

As showbiz journalist turned PRO Rav Singh points out below, the public is very media-savvy, with 49 per cent believing the timing of McElderry's announcement was planned by his PR team. A further 37 per cent said the announcement was a result of The Sun gathering evidence to prove the singer was gay - just 13 per cent believed the announcement was spontaneous.

On the wider issue of whether or not sexuality was newsworthy, 51 per cent said it was not. However, 44 per cent said a celebrity coming out as homosexual was news sometimes, for example if the individual concerned had previously portrayed themselves as heterosexual.

Singer Will Young gained the highest public approval of male celebrities who had come through the media, closely followed by Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas.

Despite the apparent open-mindedness of the public, 63 per cent said it would be harder for a sportsman to come out than an actor or singer. And 75 per cent felt the reason there are no openly gay footballers in the UK was because any footballer coming out would get a very homophobic reaction from fans.

Survey of 3,000 members of the public conducted by global research agency OnePoll

HOW I SEE IT

RAVI SINGH, Special projects consultant, The Outside Organisation

In 1999 when Stephen Gately came out, I was the journalist at The Sun who worked with The Outside Organisation on the story. It was a big deal, because people did not really know that PROs and journalists worked together. People are more media-savvy these days and they know stories like this are a PR thing.

The findings about footballers are very interesting. If a gay footballer did come out it, it would be horrendous for him. There is homophobia around football and I believe the player would lose sponsorship deals. It would be a great move for footballers to be able to come out, but even in 2010 I do not think they would be able to - look what happened to Justin Fashanu.

When I saw Gareth Thomas had come out, I thought 'wow'. But I believe rugby supporters are a bit more subdued compared with football fans, who tend to be rowdier and more macho.

- Has your opinion of X Factor winner Joe McElderry changed after his admission through The Sun that he is gay?

Yes - more negative - 5%

Yes - more positive - 7%

No - 88%

- Do you think the timing of McElderry's media announcement was:

The result of The Sun gathering evidence - 37.5%

Entirely spontaneous - 13.5%

Planned by his PR team - 49%

FOOTBALLERS

75% of respondents said footballers coming out would get an extremely homophobic response from football fans

CELEBRITIES

70% said it should not be a front-page story if a star comes out

ACCEPTANCE

63% said being gay was more accepted if the person was an actor or singer than a sportsman

NEWS VALUE

5% said McElderry coming out was a surprise and therefore newsworthy

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Latest Articles

The latest social media fail case study: #myNYPD

The latest social media fail case study: #myNYPD

The New York Police Department's Twitter fail offers another social media lesson for organisations.

Edelman US chief Mark Hass steps down

Former top lobbyist and H&K CEO Robert Gray passes away at 92

Former top lobbyist and H&K CEO Robert Gray passes away at 92

Robert Gray, an influential Washington, DC, lobbyist and former chairman and CEO of Hill & Knowlton, passed away last Friday. He was 92.

Max Clifford trial jury to reconvene tomorrow after majority verdicts direction

Max Clifford trial jury to reconvene tomorrow after majority verdicts direction

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford on 11 charges of indecent assault has been sent home for the day after being told by the judge earlier this afternoon that he will now accept majority verdicts.