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Credit: By gpaumier on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

News coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans issues is to be highlighted at an awards ceremony hosted by the charity Stonewall.

But how are media outlets approaching LGBT topics in the hyper-connected world of social media and 24/7 news cycles?

BuzzFeed has been nominated in Stonewall's 'publication of the year' category alongside Attitude.co.uk, the i newspaper, Property Week and Biscuit, an online magazine for bisexual women.

"It's something our readers really care about and it's something that our generation really cares about and to not invest more time and resources into LGBT coverage seems like a bad move," BuzzFeed UK reporter Rossalyn Warren told Journalism.co.uk.

Warren explained how BuzzFeed uses social media to find stories from the LGBT community which are emerging online.

"It's these personal experiences and these personal stories that really reach our audience," she said.

BuzzFeed has a dedicated team in the US covering the LGBT community, as well as correspondents around the world like Warren who cover local issues and events.

We talk about the different ways our audience may possibly see a story.Rossalyn Warren, BuzzFeed UK
She told Journalism.co.uk that while looking for "social stories" meant having easier access to the community online, journalists should be wary of being intrusive.

"[The] LGBT community, they have these safe spaces on Tumblr or Facebook groups," Warren said, adding that BuzzFeed staff listen to these voices to see "if there's a way that we can approach what they're discussing and help tell their story".

"But [it's about] always being respectful and understanding that it may not always be our space online."

This month, BuzzFeed covered a tweet that went viral showing a text message from a landlord refusing to rent a room to a gay couple, for example.

However, as social media allows more access to LGBT communities around the world, it is important for journalists covering this area to be aware of the potential dangers faced by sources in their home countries, said Warren.

She said journalists should listen to the LGBT community to ensure "more accurate and fairer coverage", as traditional media tends to approach this topic as a "niche area or second tier area".

At BuzzFeed, stories are discussed with LGBT staff before publication. "We talk about how we can approach specific stories, as well as the different ways that our audience may possibly see a story, and making sure that we tell all sides of it as well as we can from an LGBT perspective," said Warren.

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Screenshot from BuzzFeed.com buzzfeed.com/lgbt

However, the story of a 'kiss-in' staged at a Brighton Sainsbury's store after a lesbian couple were banned from the supermarket was an example of a story emerging online about the LGBT community and being picked up by traditional media, she said.

British gay lifestyle magazine Attitude revamped its website at the beginning of the year, investing in a dedicated editorial team to increase its offering from one or two digital stories a day to more than 20.

Attitude managing director Mike Buckley told Journalism.co.uk that the site focuses on "more reactive stories", publishing CCTV footage released by police of suspects of acid attacks on gay people in Vauxhall, for example.

As the magazine is feature-led, Buckley's plans for the site include concentrating more on news, translating the "more political stories the magazine does onto the website".

The magazine's new digital counterpart attitude.co.uk comes as an addition to social media accounts which have been built up over the last few years.

"We are a small magazine so unfortunately we can't be in every news agent in the UK," he said. "We would like to be but obviously that's not always the case, whereas social media can go to every single home."

"If you've got a 16 or 17-year-old gay person living somewhere very rural in the UK, it might be hard for them to actually find a copy of Attitude."

Social media and the refreshed website acts as a way to get the information to people "in their own home and on their mobile device," he said.

While the i newspaper sits among the nominees in Stonewall's "publication of the year" category, the Independent on Sunday is currently working on its Rainbow List of 101 influential LGBT people in Britain, now in its 15th year, to be published on 9 November.

Stonewall will also commend the "journalist of the year" at its awards on 6 November, and nominees include Ade Adepitan for Unreported World: Jamaica's Underground Gays, BBC's Jane Hill, and Liz MacKean for Dispatches: Hunted.

A full list of the Stonewall Award nominees is available on the charity's website.

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