March 25, 2007
Posted by: Chris
In a blistering blog post (is there any other kind?) over at HuffPo, gay jouralist and author Gabriel Rotello weighed in against the long-standing policy of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation not to consider work by gay TV and media for the organization's Media Awards.
GLAAD and its awards focus on "those whose attitudes about our right to fairness, dignity and equality we must work to transform."
In other words, GLAAD sees its awards as a way of cajoling mainstream media types into treating gays better. If you're a straight producer who has accepted a gay award in front of hundreds of cheering queers, the idea goes, you will be less likely to dump on those same people in your next broadcast.
By that reasoning, GLAAD doesn't think it needs to cajole the gay media into doing the right thing. The gay media do the right thing by dint of their very existence. So why waste awards on them?
Exactly. Couldn't have said it better. So why isn't that enough? Again, Rotello:
GLAAD was founded to advance gay visibility and fairness in the media, and to reward excellence in the coverage of lesbian and gay issues. Excellence is excellence, even if it springs from outlets run by and for gays. You'd think a gay group would not just know that, they would celebrate it.
For a gay media group to reinforce outdated divisions, and shove into the shadows those who do the most to advance visibility, is archaic, absurd and insulting to its own community.
As someone with a decade of experience in the gay media, I have to disagree. Gay media should have its own, built-in incentives for portraying gay lives in a fair and inclusive way. And it's a clear and dangerous conflict of interest to set up a system whereby a gay rights group covered by the gay press also decides when their work is worthy of commendation.
The biggest challenge facing the the quality of journalism in gay press today is the pressure to accede to the A-crowd within each gay community, abdicating our watchdog role so as not to anger potential advertisers and win plaudits at black-tie dinners. As pointed out before, GLAAD is not the gay TV and motion picture academy or the queer Pulitzer Prize committee. The National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, for one, already hands out awards from peers to reporters and editors in the gay press and general circulation media.
The point of the GLAAD awards is to incentivize the mainstream media and raise money for the organization. That should be enough.
What do you think? Be sure to vote in my Vizu Poll (to the right) on the topic. As always, voting does not transport you off the site or subject you to annoying pop-ups.
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