Saturday, July 07, 2012

Guardian Omits LYRIC ED's
Pay Raise as Gay Youth Services Cut

One of the most annoying lapses in mainstream and alternative journalism is when reporters write about a nonprofit, and omit facts about the executive director's salary, especially in the context of services being cut.

The latest example of such journalism can be found in the June 19 edition of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, in their story about the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center services they provide to LGBT youths. Reporter Yael Chanoff wrote:

But LYRIC, like many nonprofits, has felt the impact of the severe government cuts to health and human services. As a result, its budget has suffered steady declines from approximately $1.2 million in 2008 to $954,000 this year primarily due to shrinking government funding. 

But LYRIC refuses to give up offering paid internships, a rarity in the nonprofit world. 

"The City has made it clear that they no longer intend to invest significant funding into subsidized employment model programs — they want to serve greater numbers of youth at a much lower unit cost — even if we all understand that some of the most marginalized youth will no longer be getting the intensive level of support they need to make it to a successful adulthood" LYRIC's Executive Director Jodi Schwartz [said]. "We used to hire 60-70 young people per year, now it's more like 20."

While LYRIC's budget has decline 20%, what's happened to Schwartz's compensation package during the lean times for LGBT youth coming to her agency?

According to LYRIC's IRS 990 filing for 2008 Schwartz's package was $88,270, in 2009 it was $90,312 and for 2010 the amount was $96,296, showing an 8.5% increase over three-years and a rather minor jump in pay in the nonprofit world. (FYI: LYRIC does not post its 990s on their site.)

However, my point is that whatever is happening to the executive director's salary should be reported particularly when the organization's budget, and in this case it's decline, is key point in the story. The Bay Guardian owed readers Schwartz's pay details and the question of should her pay be reduced to preserve vital support for at-risk LGBT of color broached.

Maybe if Schwartz voluntarily refused pay increased and instead directed the savings to her employment program, more than twenty youths would have part-time work.

Regardless of what one thinks of LYRIC and its leadership, and I am among their critics, I hope you'll agree a disservice in journalism happened when the Bay Guardian omitted executive compensation from their recent article.

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