Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Love/Hate Relationship with the Media

One can easily argue the movement for LGBT rights maintains a tenuous love/hate relationship with both mainstream and LGBT media. Newspapers, radio and television stations, on-line media and other outlets provide activists and organizations a very efficient opportunity to get their respective messages out to their various target audiences and constituencies. These same activists and organizations, on the other hand, bite the proverbial hand that feeds them if reporters document less than flattering news about their activism, misquotes them or commit other journalistic digressions.

Friends Andres Duque and Pedro Julio Serrano, president of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, blogged earlier this week about homophobic statements El Nuevo Dia reporter Jaime Torres falsely attributed to popular Puerto Rican singer Melina Leon. Another Boy in Bushwick reader expressed concern about an article the Sun-Sentinel published which questioned whether Fort Lauderdale LGBT activists actually support the addition of gender identity and expression to Broward County's anti-discrimination statutes. He discounted the South Florida newspaper's account as "very misleading and actually false in many of its statements." He further assured readers that local activists remain committed to the inclusion of transgender people in its collective advocacy.

These two cases certainly highlight this contentious relationship to which I can attest as a journalist and a former activist who has worked within and outside the movement for LGBT rights for more than four years. The media remains a crucial tool which activists and organizations continue to use. It has a responsibility, however, to report LGBT-related stories accurately without sensationalism or interjection of personal perspectives and feelings. One can easily conclude this theory sometimes does not manifest itself in how media professionals choose to report on these issues.

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