Asia Pacific Media Educator


The longevity of the media’s interest in the 1998 murder of gay Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard and the diverse ways in which the story has been approached and appropriated provides a unique window into some of the dynamics of the media coverage of both gay people and gay and lesbian hate crimes. In this article I will analyse two extended pieces of journalism, both of which attempt to go beyond the standard Shepard story. I will suggest that the literary style of layered juxtaposition and compassionate questioning adopted by JoAnn Wypijewski’s 1999 Harper’s feature is a more appropriate response to a complex, sensitive situation than Elizabeth Vargas’ investigative toughness in her 2004 20/20 report.