Monday, February 11, 2008

Media Sensationalizes Murder of Alleged Transgender Prostitute

The news of Sanesha Stewart's murder allegedly at the hands of her pimp who did not know she was transgender is certainly a tragedy, but the subsequent coverage surrounding her untimely death is nothing less than outrageous.

Stewart, 25, was reportedly stabbed to death by Steve McMillan inside her Bronx apartment on Feb. 9. 1010 WINS announced the murder on its Web site yesterday with the headline "Tranny Hooker Murdered By Shocked John" while the Daily News proclaimed "Fooled John Stabbed Bronx Tranny." The tabloid changed its headline after the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation contacted its editors to challenge the sensationalized coverage. 1010 WINS followed suit but many questions remain.

Media outlets obviously need to remain competitive in order to maintain their product. This competitiveness comes with a great deal of responsibility. Sensationalizing the death of anyone is simply outrageous. Stewart had many friends and family -- as the Daily News itself reported today -- who loved her and care for her during her life. And she is certainly entitled to that basic respect and dignity in death without salacious headlines from editors interested in selling a few extra newspapers or producers who want to gain a handful of new listeners.

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