Gross awarded Leroy F. Aarons award for GLBT contributions

School of Communication Director Larry Gross has been named the 2008 winner of the Leroy F. Aarons Award for his contribution to education and research on issues affecting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) communities. The GLBT Interest Group will present Gross with the award at the business meeting on Thursday, Aug. 7 at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).

A specialist in the areas of media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies. He is the author of Contested Closets: The Politics and Ethics of Outing (University of Minnesota Press) and Up From Invisibility: Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Media in America (Columbia University Press) and the editor of The Columbia Reader on Lesbians and Gay Men in Media, Society and Politics (Columbia).

Gross spent 35 years teaching communication at the University of Pennsylvania before joining USC Annenberg in 2003 as director of the School of Communication. At Penn, he was the Sol Worth Professor of Communication and deputy dean of the Annenberg School for Communication.

After earning degrees from Brandeis University and Columbia University, Gross became a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania in 1968, mentoring more than 180 students through their theses and dissertations, chairing the University’s Faculty Senate, and heading numerous university committees and other organizations.

From 1971 to 1991, Gross co-directed the Cultural Indicators Project with George Gerbner, which focused on television content and its influence on viewer attitudes and behavior, introducing the theory of cultivation. He was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 1998 and received the International Communication Association’s Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award in 2001. He is an elected Fellow of the International Communication Association.

Gross has written and edited books covering a wide variety of issues in visual and cultural communication. In addition to the publications above, his editing credits also include Communications Technology And Social Policy (Wiley); Studying Visual Communication (University of Pennsylvania Press); Image Ethics: The Moral Rights Of Subjects In Photography, Film And Television (Oxford University Press); Image Ethics in the Digital Age (University of Minnesota Press); On The Margins of Art Worlds (Westview Press); and the International Encyclopedia Of Communications (Oxford University Press).

The Leroy F. Aarons Award honors individuals who have made significant contributions to the promotion and inclusion of GLBT materials in education and research. The award is named after Leroy F. Aarons, who shocked the news industry in 1990 when he acknowledged that he was gay at a conference for the American Society of Newspaper Editors.  That announcement, in conjunction with the results from a landmark survey of gay and lesbian journalists, spearheaded the creation of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA), an organization of journalists, media professionals, educators and students who work to foster fair and accurate coverage of GLBT issues. Aarons spent 14 years as a reporter and editor at The Washington Post, was a founding board member of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, and executive editor of The Oakland Tribune. He later worked to revive an educators’ group within AEJMC to assist educators in incorporating GLBT materials in journalism courses. In 1999, Aarons became director of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication’s Sexual Orientation Issues in the News (SOIN) program. SOIN works to assist journalism education in addressing issues affecting sexual minorities; the program holds forums and workshops and provides resources for understanding the complexities of the debate surrounding GLBT issues. Aarons died in 2004.