A University of Missouri graduate has donated $1 million to the journalism school for research and education about LGBT issues.
The pledge comes from Timothy Blair, who wants the money to go toward better understanding how news coverage can reinforce or break down stereotypes about people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, the Columbia Daily Tribune (http://bit.ly/1HJmdu0 ) reported Saturday.
"It became apparent that the passion I have about LGBT rights, and being a gay man myself . I wanted to put my money where my mouth is," said Blair, who is a graduate of MU's journalism school.
At an announcement Friday, Blair recalled the silence surrounding HIV and AIDs in the 1980s, even as people cared for their children, friends and neighbors.
"When you think about what journalists did, when everybody else wasn't talking about it, journalists were taking pictures of it," he said. "They were giving names to those faces, and that's where I think we began to see . people living among us who had long lived in the shadows."
The endowment will be available to faculty and students interested in media coverage of LGBT issues as well as for curriculum content on LGBT topics, MU School of Journalism Dean Dean Mills said.
Blair is a native of Joplin who started his career in journalism at age 15, working as a copy boy at The Joplin Globe. He graduated from MU in 1973 and earned a master's degree from Washington University in St. Louis before working in marketing and public relations for several St. Louis companies, the newspaper reported. He founded BlairPR Inc. in Los Angeles in 1993.
MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said in a news release that Blair's donation will help advance MU's journalism school.
"It is of the utmost importance that our journalists be well-informed on a wide range of topics so that they can more accurately report on all important social issues," Loftin said.