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    March 21, 2008

    NLGJA stands by Blade against DNC

    Posted by: Chris

    Nlgja_logo It's very gratifying to see today that the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association is speaking out publicly in defense of the watchdog role of the LGBT press, even when covering political "friends" of the gay rights movemement like Howard Dean and the Democratic National Committee.

    I concluded my post last week about the DNC's contempt for the gay press with this:

    The Democratic Party has enjoyed a major resurgence the last several years, attributable almost entirely to the utter disaster of the Bush presidency and the inspirational (until recently) presidential primary. Dean will no doubt ride that wave as long as he can, but it is long past time for gays and gay groups to speak out against the contempt and disrespect with which Democratic Party officials treat the gay press.

    Where is the National Gay & Lesbian Journalists Association when the gay press needs it?

    Afterward, I contacted Eric Hegedus, the group's president, to see where NLGJA stood, and to my very pleasant surprise he told me last weekend that the group would come forward with a strong statement in support of the LGBT media and press freedom. That statement is published in today's Washington Blade, in the form of an op-ed that encourages the gay press to "keep up the good fight" in watchdogging the DNC, party chair Howard Dean and his controversial staff chief Rev. Leah Daughtry:

    In the end, the LGBT media deserve as much respect and attention as mainstream media, and I have just one message to [editor Kevin] Naff and the Blade, as well as other journalists working in LGBT press: Keep up the good fight. Continue to do your job, follow your ethics, question political motives and open the public's eyes and ears regarding how governmental process works.

    There’s a reason journalists subscribe to the tenet of a “free press,” whether in mainstream or niche media. It's our job to cover politics, bureaucracy and governmental leaders, not to mention our communities, and we have no room for apprehension and scare tactics in our pursuit of the truth.

    This isn't a matter of journalists working in the gay press simply circling the wagons. NLGJA consists almost entirely of gay journalists working in the mainstream media -- including all of the top newspapers, TV networks and new media -- and the org traditionally shies away from anything that resembles "activism." In fact, this is the first time in my decade of affiliation that I remember NLGJA ever speaking out for the LGBT press; it's important and very welcome.

    Hegedus is careful not to take sides on the particular factual dispute here -- whether Daughtry sent lawyers to the Blade offices in an attempt to intimidate the paper from covering her and the DNC -- but NLGJA is offering a crucial defense of the independence of the LGBT media against attempts to disrespect and intimidate. He acknowledges that LGBT press is criticial because it can cover gay issues in a way that the mainstream press effectively cannot. (Although it was nice to see that the Washington Post awoke yesterday from its gay slumber long enough to cover Dean and the bias lawsuit brought by Donald Hitchcock.)

    If only the gay men and lesbians with influence within the DNC apparatus could see beyond their partisanship long enough to join the NLJGA and stand up against the contempt shown by the party for the LGBT press -- and the movement and LGBT constituency itself.

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