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Gay Aging and Discourses of Future  

Dustin Goltz

The understandings about age—the values and assumptions placed upon age and aging persons—mark a culturally and politically constructed discourse. For LGBTQ populations, aging is mapped with a unique set of stories, scripts, and narratives that work to frame and constrain how they are trained to see, read, and assign meanings. Coupled with scripts and myths that work to define the process and experience of LGBTQ aging—what it is to be an “older,” “younger,” or “aging” queer—is the cultural scripting of the queer future (i.e., “What’s ahead?” “What do you expect from your life?” “What is to come?”). As a communicative process and a symbolic construction, no one knows what the future is or what one’s future will be. Yet, the queer future has historically been scripted in mainstream discourses (film, literature, religion, and cultural mythology) as a space of pain, loss, and tragedy—“a harder path” equated with sadness, turmoil, and punishment. Cautionary tales of the dirty old man, the sad pathetic fool, the invisible spinster, the lesbian vampire, and the queer monster are recurring themes that work to denigrate aging queer lives and shore up the story of heteronormative correctness. This cultural script works to frame how mainstream culture understands LGBTQ populations but also frames and constrains how LGBTQ populations might view themselves, understand their future and aging bodies, and shape their investment in health, self-care, and longevity. The cultural scripts perpetuated in media and discourse, however, do not so easily line up with social science research on queer populations. Examining the meaning-making dimensions of gay aging and future offers an interdisciplinary approach that brings together sociology, gerontology, performance studies, and media criticism with the field of human communication.

Article

Accountability in Journalism  

Susanne Fengler

In the past decade, academic and professional debates about media accountability have spread around the globe – but have done so in a fundamentally different framework. In many Western democracies, trust in media – along with trust in politics and trust in institutions – as eroded dramatically. Fundamental shifts regarding the patterns of media use and the structure of media and revenue markets have made media and journalism more exposed to criticism from various stakeholders, and more vulnerable to the strategic influence of national and international actors. While many “Western” media professionals have reacted to these challenges to its credibility by new initiatives to demonstrate accountability and transparency, policy makers in other countries even in the “Global North” have tightened their grip on independent media and gradually weakened the concept of self-control. At the same time, an ongoing democratization in many parts of the world, along with a de-regulation of media markets, has created a growing demand for self-regulation and media accountability in countries formerly characterized by rigid press control. Claude-Jean Bertrand defined the development and current structures of accountability in journalism as “any non-State means of making media responsible towards the public.” Key aims of media accountability are “to improve the services of the media to the public; restore the prestige of media in the eyes of the population; diversely protect freedom of speech and press; obtain, for the profession, the autonomy that it needs to play its part in the expansion of democracy and the betterment of the fate of mankind.” Journalists and news outlets have a wide array of responses to professional, public, and political criticisms via press councils, ombudsmen, media criticism, and digital forms of media accountability, while online and offline media accountability instruments have distinct traditions in different media systems and journalism cultures.