This month, a pair of journalism institutions promoted LGBT editors to leadership positions in their sports departments.
The Boston Globe promoted Rachel Bowers to assistant sports editor, and The Seattle Times promoted Stefanie Loh to assistant sports editor.
Bowers and Loh both identify as lesbians.
“It’s huge that the Times and the Globe have done this,” Bowers said. “I’m honored, but we have a long way to go in the industry.”
Bowers received the promotion after serving as a sports producer at The Boston Globe since June 2014. Her first day as assistant sports editor is July 23.
Before her promotion, Loh covered Washington State University athletics since she arrived at The Seattle Times in 2015. Her first day as assistant sports editor was July 1.
“It’s a good thing for people to see LGBT women in positions like that, because I think it’s good for people to see LGBT folk in all positions, in all walks of life,” Loh said. “That’s what you need for there to be growing acceptance everywhere. It needs to not be this anomaly.”
Bowers wants to tell more LGBT stories
Bowers’ responsibilities as assistant sports editor will be managing the website, spearheading engagement efforts and handling breaking news.
Returning to the Boston Globe newsroom has Bowers most excited about the job. Bowers has worked remotely since 2015, when she and her girlfriend, CNN Money’s Julia Carpenter, moved to Washington, D.C., for Carpenter’s job.
“I’m really excited to be working closer with our writers,” Bowers said. “That’s ultimately what I love doing the most is talking through story ideas and figuring out the best way to tell the stories.”
Bowers and Carpenter remain together and are figuring out how to handle working in separate cities.
As assistant sports editor, Bowers wants to increase the stories about women and LGBT people in sports.
“Boston is such a strong sports market, but I think we can do a better job — like everyone in the industry — of telling more diverse stories, including more diverse voices: Shining a light on women’s sports. Shining a light on LGBT sports,” Bowers said.
“That’s important to me. … Now that I’m in this position, I want to do what I can to do that.”
Bowers said she has never had a problem with LGBT acceptance in the Globe newsroom, and she said she is anxious to begin her new role.
“It’s a little bit overwhelming,” Bowers said. “It’s a huge honor, and I take it very seriously. I’m really excited to get started.”
Loh’s final story focused on Megan Rapinoe, Sue Bird
Loh accepted her new role this spring, so in June, she started transitioning to be assistant sports editor.
But before officially becoming an editor, she needed to complete a story she started on Seattle’s LGBT power couple — Sue Bird of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm and Megan Rapinoe of Seattle Reign FC in the National Women’s Soccer League.
The Bird/Rapinoe story published June 22.
“It was a really fulfilling story to write because obviously it means something personal to me,” Loh said.
She felt her career as a writer had come full circle.
As a University of Oregon student in 2007, Loh wrote a story talking to people within Oregon athletics about how an LGBT athlete would be received. When she was offered her first job in Morgantown, West Virginia, Loh was told that story was a key reason she was hired.
“That was the first big enterprise story that I was able to pull off,” Loh said. “It (the Bird and Rapinoe story) felt kind of circular and kind of cool, now that I’m making this shift from reporter to an editor, to have my last big enterprise piece be this thing about Megan and Sue and how they’re living out and living openly in their lives.”
As assistant sports editor, Loh oversees the sports department’s digital execution and Sunday enterprise projects. She also focuses on coverage of the Seattle Seahawks, NFL, college basketball, and Seattle Storm.
Loh said The Seattle Times and every newsroom she has worked in has been accepting of her as a lesbian.
“I’m very appreciative that the Times saw something in me and put this faith in me to promote me to this position,” Loh said. “I’m really excited to see what we can do. I’m learning every day. It’s definitely a new challenge, but it’s been really fun so far and very rewarding.”
Rachel Bowers can be found on Twitter @RachelGBowers.
Stefanie Loh can be found on Twitter @StefanieLoh.
Erik Hall is a member of the Associated Press Sports Editors and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. He can be reached on Facebook, Twitter @HallErik or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.