Friday, January 07, 2005

This has been a banner week for increased transparency in the gay movement, thanks to the Human Rights Campaign fully disclosing the names of who is on their executive search committee.

But if readers of the Washington Blade are depending on the paper to keep them informed about HRC's effort to hire a new executive director, they won't get the full story from this week's edition.

The Blade prints the half-truth about HRC announcing a search committee this week, and that the names of who's on the committee weren't made public. Well, that was true early in the week, but, as we all know, by Thursday, HRC reversed itself and released the names of the people on the search committee. For unknown reasons, the Blade is not reporting the change at HRC, nor the names. (

Considering the Blade comes out on Fridays, the paper had plenty of time to get the full story about HRC's search committee, as did the Bay Area Reporter's Washington-based reporter Bob Roehr, whose story for the BAR appeared on Thursday. So a San Francisco gay paper with an earlier deadline, prints the full-truth, while the Blade, with more lead time, ignores it.

Another activist is also calling the Blade on the carpet for its HRC coverage this week. Christian Grantham, the gay blogger who broke the story in November about HRC firing Cheryl Jacques, today criticizes the Blade for its story about HRC sharing the names of the search committee members.

Grantham writes, "Besides the fact that most of Window Media (Washington Blade, New York Blade, Southern Voice, Houston Voice) reports today are old news to readers here and on other blogs, HRC published the names yesterday. Yet, for a full week, the Southern Voice will inaccurately proclaim this news story in their print version throughout the South's LGBT community." (Source:

Perhaps the underlying problem here is the Blade occasional inability to challenge HRC and its methods.

In looking over the Blade's October 10, 2003, story about HRC's effort to hire someone to replace its departing leader, Elizabeth Birch, I learned how Vic Basile was in charge of a confidential committee and process, just as he's doing now in finding someone to take the place of Cheryl Jacques. (Source:

That 2003 Blade article also reported HRC was using the services of Isaacson, Miller to locate a new leader for the group, a task the consulting firm is again performing.

All of this was interesting, but the most fascinating aspect of the story, in my opinion, was how the Blade didn't challenge the lack of transparency. Citing reasons of confidentiality, Basile divulged very little to the Blade. The paper, unfortunately, didn't question the dearth of transparency, nor did the Blade point out how other social movement nonprofits, such as the NAACP, tell the public who's on their search committees.

In a related matter this week, the Blade ironically has both a story and an editorial about how many mainstream papers, especially the New York Times, didn't print the entire truth about noted intellectual, essayist and social critic Susan Sontag, particularly her lesbian nature and relationships. (Sources: and

I couldn't agree more with the Blade's viewpoint on Sontag and the responsibility other news media had in reporting all the facts about her life and lesbianism.

Let's hope Blade reporters and editors follow the advice they dish out to others and that the paper corrects the half-truth in their story about HRC's search committee.

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