Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Should Gay MSM Reporters
Question GLAAD's Stewardship?

(Mr. Barrios, in Florida last week. Credit: Jon Schwenzer, of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.)

More than a week has passed since I emailed 10 simple questions to executives at the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Arcus Foundation, regarding an $80,000 grant the former received from the latter, and I'm still waiting for answers from these community groups.

Yesterday I spoke with Carol Snapp, head of communications for Arcus, who said she would see about someone getting back to me. Haven't heard a peep from them. Let's recap the situation.

I blogged about this info on the Arcus site:

$80,000 for support of the Digital and Online Media Program to strengthen the ability of LGBT blogs to mobilize readers to take action, amplify their messages in the mainstream media and become more financially sustainable.

To confuse matters, Queerty.com inaccurately reported this claim, in reference to my post:

[GLAAD] was supposedly setting up a $80,000 grant fund for LGBT bloggers [...]

I never wrote that, but that bit of truth didn't get in the way of GLAAD executive assistant Richard Ferraro from saying this to Queerty.com:

"The blog post that Queerty references in this article says that GLAAD received an outside grant to set up a 'grant fund for LGBT bloggers' where GLAAD was supposed to delegate funds to LGBT/progressive writers. This is wrong. The grant was not intended or given for this reason. It was given to build GLAAD’s internal capacity to better work with bloggers and to do media advocacy in the digital space. "

Um, no, the blog post Queerty references never said the Arcus grant was to set up a fund for gay bloggers, so why is GLAAD telling a lie? And if the grant was to help GLAAD's bloated infrastructure, that is at direct odds with what info is posted at Arcus.

At this point, it is necessary for Arcus leaders to make the GLAAD grant in question publicly available on the web. Good community relations with these orgs demands a full transparency effort on their part to open the documents, for all to see.

Separately, I wish to raise the issue of gay mainstream reporters and their role, if any, in holding GLAAD leaders accountable. At Steve Rothaus' blog over at the Miami Herald site, he on Monday called attention to Jarrett Barrios making an appearance at a fundraiser for the org in Florida. Rothaus linked to a photo stream of the event, and his post was no more than two-sentences long.

Also on Monday, MarketingMag reported on a GLAAD panel in the Big Apple, that was headed by the powerful ad industry beat reporter Stuart Elliott from the Gray Lady:

While the marketing and advertising industry has long-targeted specific ethnicity-based demographics it's only recently that brands have begun to recognize the potential of marketing to the gay community.

The opening day of Advertising Week 2010 in New York marked the first time the issue has been discussed at the conference. GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios opened the panel discussion, called "Gays & Lesbians: Know Them?" by saying the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) community has seen a lot more legal and cultural acceptance in the last 25 years, but advertising is still lagging.

The panel, [was] moderated by New York Times' advertising columnist Stuart Elliott, [...]

On the surface there's nothing inherently wrong with a short blog item mentioning a GLAAD fundraiser, or a NY Times writer participating in a GLAAD-sponsored discussion. But digging a bit deeper, I see two instances of mainstream gay reporters not questioning GLAAD's serious identity and cash problems, and those instances are in the larger framework of no serious scrutiny by the straight media to report on GLAAD's troubles and dissatisfaction from bloggers and former co-chair Laurie Perper.

I'd like to see gay and straight reporters in the mainstream press look behind the curtain at GLAAD. There is a legitimate story to be reported about what is happening behind the gala receptions and ad industry panels.

1 comment:

Perper said...

Yes Michael. let's pull back the curtain. The incumbent board and glaad leadership tells us all is well on the financial books of glaad. They tell us glaad is doing the work it should have been doing for years. And yet. And yet, they don't tell us what that work is. I heard that it was to further the 5 year plan by focusing on the spanish speaking media. But Univision and Telemundo never donated to glaad. How is that good?
And glaad is down from $12mm to $5mm year to date while other non-profits are only down 30% (i.e. $8mm).
So let's frame the issue. Why is glaad relevant? What is it accomplishing that is meaningful?
I'm not calling for the demise. I am calling for value of gay dollars! And glaad isn't getting it done.