Friday, July 15, 2011

GLAAD's Opaque ED Search;
No Questions or Demands from Bloggers?

Yes, I was disappointed on Wednesday to see many gay bloggers and reporters allowed the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation to use their sites to get their propaganda out to the community. The easiest way to sum up how the bloggers and reporters handled the release from GLAAD about retracting their support for AT&T's merger with T-Mobile is thus: "GLAAD said. Period. End of story."

Many posts mentioned previous controversies with GLAAD, and for that I laud the inclusion of the prior messes that led to resignations and a meltdown at the group.

The gist of the release was that the organization withdrew its support of the merger and affirmed support for net neutrality.

Among the bloggers and reporters who ran most or all of GLAAD's alert and letter to the FCC, without demanding GLAAD develop democratic engagement and start holding public meetings with the community or disclose the agreements with corporate sponsors, were the following folks and sites:

The Advocate, Bil Browning, Edge Network (which disclosed their post was written by a former GLAAD staffer), Marc Felion, Good As You, Jerry Curl, Just Out, Politico, Queer Me Up, Queerty, Steve Rothaus, Pam Spaulding, Andy Towle, Village Voice, Wall Street Journal, Washington Blade, and The Wrap.

All that aside, what caught my eye was the one-sentence about the group starting the process to find a new leader to replace the disgraced Jarrett Barrios:

[Interim executive director Mike] Thompson and GLAAD's Board of Directors pledged commitment to GLAAD's mission as they form an Executive Search Committee to identify a new President.

I've seen this sort of opaque executive search process before from the Human Rights Campaign. In 2005, after Cheryl Jacques was pushed out as HRC executive director, they announced a search committee and keep the committee members' names secret. Click here to read Bob Roehr's piece about that mess that ran in the Bay Area Reporter.

To their credit, HRC, after I pressured them, revealed who was on the search committee. Ok, let's also note that the committee eventually picked Joe Solmonese and there were no public meetings with the community about what it wanted in a new national leader, but at least the members of the committee were made public.

I believe at this point, after so much corruption at GLAAD getting the exposure it needed in recent months, it is incumbent upon the organization to not only disclose who is on their executive search committee, but to also hold a few town halls around the country to get community feedback on the direction of the group and what activists want in a new ED.

Might also be healthy for gay body politic if other bloggers questioned GLAAD's search process and demanded both transparency and open meetings. Keep in mind, the last time GLAAD had such a search it produced Barrios as the leader of the group, and it went downhill from there.

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