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    March 26, 2007

    sandbagged! by here!

    Posted by: Chris

    Dantes21_2 The New York Times reports today on the GLAAD Media Awards controversy, and a few additional points of interest emerge.

    First off, the more we learn, the less sympathetic here! TV is sounding.  The GLAAD policy of limiting its awards to non-niche media is long-standing, yet here! waited until the eve of the ceremonies this year to go public with its complaint.  That seems timed not only to benefit here! but to hurt GLAAD — not something that should give gay cable TV consumers much of a warm fuzzy.

    Stephen Macias, the somewhat shrill here! TV exec who penned the nasty public letter to GLAAD, told the Times he was "flabbergasted" by the policy, which is a bit surprising since it's not new and certainly defensible, if not unassailable.

    0178 The Times also asked a couple of other gay media outlets if they agreed with here! Networks. Cable competitor Logo did, as did the Advocate's editor in chief:

    Anne Stockwell, the executive editor of the Advocate, said her magazine’s staff members have been bewildered that GLAAD has chosen not to honor their work at the awards.

    “Everybody feels it would be great to see GLAAD take a forward-looking position and be assertive in coming to some kind of a sensible way to recognize all of us,” Stockwell said. “I do think it can feel frustrating to do all the reporting that we do, and break all the stories that we break, and not feel that there is a path to recognition.”

    It's surprising to me the Times didn't go on to ask Stockwell why it wouldn't create a conflict of interest for the Advocate to cover GLAAD while also seeking its recognition. After all, the Times won't let its own editors and reporters accept awards from GLAAD or any other advocacy group because it creates the appearance of a conflict and the potential for bias.

    Judywieder I was at the Human Rights Campaign black-tie dinner in New York a few years ago when Stockwell's predecessor, longtime Advocate editor Judy Wieder , received a special award. In her acceptance, Wieder spoke proudly of how in her first days at the magazine's helm she adopted a policy that gay rights organizations were not to be criticized in the magazine's coverage.

    Now that's the kind of "journalism" that HRC particularly likes, and the temptation at GLAAD would be similar. Would award-caliber journalism get the same consideration if it comes from a gay media outlet that has asked tough questions of GLAAD and other gay rights groups?

    (It's also worth noting, as an aside, that GLAAD does hand out the Barbara Gittings Award, named after the recently deceased, groundbreaking lesbian activist and publication editor, to an individual, group or publication that made a pioneering contribution to the gay media. The Advocate received the award in 2002.)

    Finally, the Times also talked with gay advertising agency head Howard Buford, who served on the GLAAD board in the late '90s, about the changing definition of "gay media":

    “Is it gay ownership? Is it predominantly gay content? Is it a gay target audience? It’s not as easy a definition as it was at the beginning.”

    Buford is right about that, especially in the TV industry, where Logo is owned by media giants MTV and Viacom. But still, I think "gay media" can be fairly reliably defined by the content and the target audience. Adding "gay media" categories to the GLAAD awards in the entertainment realm would recognize that changing landscape while not presenting a conflict of interest the same way handing out journalism awards would.

    (Top photo: "Dante's Cove" — pioneering programming at here! TV ineligible for GLAAD Award recognition)

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    Comments

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Mar 27, 2007 2:51:01 AM:

      "Wieder spoke proudly of how in her first days at the magazine's helm she adopted a policy that gay rights organizations were not to be criticized in the magazine's coverage."

      Gee, and we wonder why Joe Solmonese and the HRC Board think they can blow millions on homophobes, pay their past ED hundreds of thousands of dollars for not working, count dead people as "members", and insist that any attempt at criticizing them is akin to pointing the Gestapo at Anne Frank's annex door.

      Children who are never held accountable for their behavior grow up into spoiled, destructive brats.

      So has HRC, et al.

    1. Rob Power on Mar 27, 2007 9:09:57 AM:

      One small point, though -- if being owned by "media giants" MTV and Viacom should make Logo ineligible for an award, aren't pretty much all of the "mainstream" media outlets that GLAAD favors also ineligible?

      But honestly, that here! is the one making the biggest noise is funny, since they're a subscription-only or pay-per-view type of channel, while Logo is basic cable. So Logo may actually qualify as "mainstream" but there's no way that here! can claim that label.

      I think GLAAD needs to create a new category of awards for Advocate, here!, and other niche media. But I'm not so sure that Logo belongs there. My grandma in rural Tennessee gets Logo as part of her standard DirecTV service. Seems pretty "mainstream" to me.

    1. gideonse on Mar 27, 2007 3:04:12 PM:

      I find it odd that Judy would have said that. Early in her tenure, she hired me to write an article about the management implosion at PFLAG, and it ended up being REALLY critical. A day after it came out, the exec director resigned. But maybe PFLAG doesn't count as a "gay" organization because most of its members are straight. I adore Judy, but that's a very, very unfortunate quote.

      Anyway, I think GLAAD's policy is defensible, but it's also unfair. Eligibility should be based on whether or not the work was about a gay subject, not whether the work was produced by a mainstream company or a gay company. And anyway, what's mainstream? Logo is on basic cable, so I guess it's mainstream. Here! is available everywhere, so why is it not mainstream? Simply because it has a different revenue stream? And the Advocate is part of a massive gay media company that is listed on frickin' NASDAQ. That's pretty mainstream.

      It seems that GLAAD should follow either the NAACP Image Awards or the Lambda Literary Awards' examples and simply give awards to excellence in gay-themed content. For film, they give awards to wide and limited release, not whether or not the film was run exclusively by gay people. "Hedwig" won a GLAAD award and just about everyone involved on that picture was gay. Based on GLAAD's policy, it shouldn't have won. But it did. And it should have. They should do the same thing with all categories, whether it's film or print journalism or TV documentary.

      Even if they did open up the eligibility, in most cases the gay media won't win the awards. Logo might win for a documentary, but Bravo, HBO, and Showtime have it beat on most fronts. And the Advocate might win for a profile or something, but they so rarely do any investigative or out-of-the-box work, it would be hard for them to beat any of the good gay or gay-interested journalists working at major outlets with so many more resources. Maybe the chance to win an award would spur the gay groups to do better work. I'd love to see Out actually become the gay Vanity Fair it's supposed to be. And I'd love to see The Advocate treat gay organizations with as much suspicion as they do the Republican and Democratic parties.

    1. Matt Stephens on Mar 28, 2007 11:31:38 PM:

      So Details got an award last night....um...ok...thats not a gay magazine

    1. Judy Wieder on Aug 14, 2009 8:14:48 PM:

      Hello, GLAAD folks,
      My name is Judy Wieder. I am the former Advocate Editor in Chief (and The Advocate, Out, The OutTraveler, HIVPlus, Alyson Books Editorial Director) you refer to in your article, with my photograph.
      I just wanted to point out that I never, ever said that in my "first days at the magazine's helm I adopted a policy that gay rights organizations were not to be criticized in the magazine's coverage." In fact, if you contact your past Exec Director, Joan Garry, she will quickly set you "straight" about the magazine's often severe critiques of your own organization's campaigns. Additionally, it took great effort, but Elizabeth Birch and I managed to forge a good enough friendship despite the bumpy collision course her organization (HRC) and The Advocate often found themselves on. It is unavoidable if you head a newsmagazine and the organization your friend helms is in the news. The Advocate was not a pr firm for the LGBT community.
      However, what I probably did say when being honored is this: Before I came to The Advocate, past editors got great joy out of ripping to shreds any and all gay organizations for the pure sport of it. They thought that would prove to mainstream newsmagazines that The Advocate was NOT just another "gay rag." It was a serious national newsmagazine. When I became Editor in Chief and could set policy, I decided we didn't need to prove our authority and stature that way--or any way. It was mean, destructive, and left no room for authentic criticism. It was hard enough just doing the job of a good, incisive, fair newsmagazine.
      Thank you for allowing me this space to set the record right.
      - Judy

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