Scope and content
Title: Leroy Aarons Papers
Identifier/Call Number: Coll2011.014
Contributing Institution: ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 2.6 linear feet.2 archive boxes, 1 archive carton
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1999-2001
Date (inclusive): 1890-2003
Grant documents, financial records, correspondence and e-mail, notes, published reports, organizational membership lists,
publicity documents, newspaper and magazine articles, lecture drafts, course syllabi, journalism resources, subject files,
floppy disks, images from newspapers and magazines, flyers, survey and content audit forms, and other material,1890 to 2003,
documenting journalist Leroy Aarons' tenure as director of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism's Project for the Study
of Sexual Orientation in the News (SOIN) from 1999 to 2003. The collection documents Aarons' central role in developing and
implementing the USC/Annenberg School's SOIN project and its three constituent parts: a model journalism course intended to
help students "to understand the complex issues around gay men and lesbians as represented in today's media"; a survey of
the perceptions of gay and lesbian journalists regarding their news organization's coverage of sexual orientation issues;
and a content audit of coverage of gay and lesbian issues in a sample of national newpapers.
USC/Annenberg materials of a general nature, without relevance to SOIN, have been deaccessioned from the Leroy Aarons papers.
Items 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, periodicals with no clear relevance to SOIN or gay and lesbian issues, have also been deaccessioned.
Items 2 and 9 may be found in the ONE Archive's periodicals collection.
1. Pamphlet reprint of
Los Angeles Times magazine profile of USC president Semple, (9/17/00)
Lambda Report, vol. II/3, 7/1994
The American Lawyer, July, 2001
4. Media Education Foundation, fall 2003 catalog
Westways magazine, August 1999
Teen People magazine, October 1999
Columbia Journalism Review, December 2001
Time/Princeton Review - College Guide 2000,Nov. 1999
The Advocate - October 23, 2001
Restricted student work has been pulled from the collection and filed with the collection's accession records.
Leroy Aarons was born in a working class neighborhood of New York, New York in 1933. He graduated from Brown University, then
later earned a graduate degree in journalism from Columbia University. Aarons spent 14 years as an editor and journalist with
Washington Post before leaving in 1976 to work with friend and colleague Robert C. Maynard at the Summer Institute for Minority Journalists
in Berkeley, California. In 1983 Maynard purchased the
Oakland Tribune and invited Aarons to join the staff. The
Tribune won a Pulitzer Prize and was recognized as a model of diversity in journalism during Aaron's tenure as executive editor and
vice president for news.
In 1989 the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) asked Aarons, known for his commitment to diversity in journalism,
to coordinate a confidential survey of gay journalists. The survey was intended to document respondents' perceptions of coverage
of gay and lesbian issues in their newspapers, as well as working conditions in their newsrooms. When Aarons reported the
survey findings to an audience of peers at the ASNE convention in 1990, he also revealed that he was gay, making him the "first
openly gay top-level editor at any mainstream daily newpaper in the country" (obituary of Aarons by Jon Thurber;
Los Angeles Times, Nov. 30, 2004). Later in the same year Aarons and several colleagues founded the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association
After leaving the
Tribune in 1990, Aarons undertook a number of writing projects, including researching and writing his acclaimed book
Prayers for Bobby. He also co-authored a docu-drama about the release of the Pentagon Papers (1991) with prominent journalist and academic
Geoffrey Cowan, later dean of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Journalism. In 1998, Aarons collaborated
with Cowan on a grant from philanthropist Michael Huffington that resulted in the creation of the Program for the Study of
Sexual Orientation in the News (SOIN) at the USC Annenberg School. Appointed director in 1999, Aarons facilitated a grant
proposal to the Ford Foundation that secured funding for three projects: the development of an undergraduate journalism class
intended to "prepare future professionals to bring context and balance to coverage of gay and lesbian issues"; a reprise of
the earlier ASNE survey of gay and lesbian journalists, this time under the auspices of the Annenberg School and the NLGJA;
and a content audit of coverage of lesbian and gay issues in six nationally or regionally significant newspapers.
Leroy Aarons remained a part of the SOIN program until his death in 2004.
Leroy Aarons Papers, Coll2011-014, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California. (Box 1, folder 8)
Scope and content
The Leroy Aarons papers comprise grant documents, financial records, correspondence and e-mail, notes, published reports,
organizational membership lists, publicity documents, survey and content audit forms, clipped and copied articles, lecture
drafts, course syllabi, journalism teaching resources, subject files, 3.5 inch floppy disks, and other material, 1890 to 2003,
documenting journalist Leroy Aarons' tenure as director of the University of Southern California Annenberg Journalism School's
Project for the Study of Sexual Orientation in the News (SOIN), from 1999-2003. Aarons played a central role in developing
and implementing the USC/Annenberg School SOIN project and its three constituent parts: an undergraduate course, Journalism
499, intended to help students "to understand the complex issues around gay men and lesbians as represented in today's media";
the "New Millenium Survey" of the perceptions of gay and lesbian journalists regarding their news organization's coverage
of sexual orientation issues; and a newspaper content audit of coverage of gay and lesbian issues appearing in a sample of
The collection is divided into four series:
(1) The SOIN Project and Administration series comprises documents pertaining to funding, financial accounting, publicity,
and project agendas for SOIN.
(2) The Journalism 499 series documents Leroy Aarons' development of an undergraduate journalism course intended to develop
an historically informed, analytical approach to the news media's treatment of gay and lesbian issues.
(3) The New Millenium Survey series documents the context and implementation of a survey exploring the attitudes and experience
of gays and lesbians employed in the journalism profession, a follow-up to two earlier studies.
(4) The Newspaper content audit series comprises documents connected to a quantitative and qualitative audit of coverage of
gay and lesbian issues appearing in six urban newpapers during the month of October 1999.
The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.
Researchers wishing to publish material must obtain permission in writing from ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives as the
physical owner of the material. Note that permission to publish does not constitute copyright clearance. ONE National Gay
& Lesbian Archives can grant copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold copyright. It is the responsibility
of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for all other materials from the copyright holder(s).
Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Processed by
Marc LaRocque, July 2011.
Box #, folder #, Leroy Aarons papers, Coll2011.014, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California
Donated on June 8, 2010 by USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Gay activists--United States--California
Gays in higher education
Mass media and gays--United States