LGBTQ+ journalist group withholds awards and retains entry money

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Journalists do their job without fanfare or recognition. In those rare moments when their work is singled out and advertised, notoriety can boost their profile, profitability and opportunities to take on bigger challenges.

This story tells what happens when some proud and proud LGBTQ+ journalists shoot for the stars and find that their work has never even made it to the launch pad.

Thursday, NLGJA: Association of LGBTQ Journalists announced the winners of his Excellence in Journalism Awards 2022. It was cause for both rejoicing and consternation; Not because of any controversy over who was selected, but because the group made no mention of the winners in four categories: Blogging Excellence; HIV/AIDS; health and fitness; and, The Al Neuharth Prize for Innovation in Investigative Journalism.

Those who paid a fee, ranging from $15 to $40 for each entry, told an LGBTQ media Google group that they couldn’t understand why no winners had been announced in the categories they hoped to win in. a price. Not only that; There was no mention of the category, either in the announcement email or online. It was if they had participated in a contest that had been erased from existence.

What really happened was that the organization’s judges didn’t consider their submissions in the Excellence in Blogging category worthy of an award, and no one thought to mention it to the contestants.

Reached by email Friday morning, Adam Pawlus, NLGJA Executive Director promised me he would investigate, and within an hour, one of the bloggers received an email from the NLGJA program manager, revealing the judges’ decision in that category.

He also invited them to submit another nomination next year.

“I find Daniel Garcia’s explanation that somehow all of the nominees this year (including several past winners) have had such a slump in quality that they haven’t had a ‘no choice but to clear the category, to be beyond belief,’ said the activist and blogger. Mark S. Kingwho in 2020 won both a GLAAD Media Award and was named by the NLGJA its LGBTQ Journalist of the Year. The HIV-positive writer’s blog is My Fabulous Illness. “It is doubly insulting that the NLGJA is receiving submission fees from non-member bloggers who make do with little or no income from our sites and then tell us we’re not good enough and come back next year and try again. our luck.”

“Wow! That’s just vicious,” said blogger Alvin McEwen of Holy Bullies and headless monsters. “It was very hurtful,” McEwen told me.

In 2017, McEwen won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Blog and is a former member of the NLGJA. “Make us pay an entrance fee and then tell us none of us were good enough to deserve a reward. It’s not an accidental kick in the face. This is deliberate disregard.

Pawlus himself emailed a blogger whose Pittsburgh Lesbian Pen pals received a second GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Blog last month. Pawlus said he “deeply apologized” and further explained that the reason she and at least three other bloggers had not been honored with an award was in the event that “no entry deserves a exceptional recognition”. In that email, he also revealed the other three categories in which the judges chose to decline any awards.

“Let me clear this for you and for all,” Pawlus wrote. “On behalf of the association, we apologize for not communicating the judges’ decisions in a clearer, more respectful and timely manner. We have a duty to communicate openly and honestly about our programs and rewards.

“In this case, by failing to note that no award was given in the Blogging Excellence category in our press release, we have failed in that duty,” Pawlus wrote. “Once again, we deeply apologize for our error and regret any confusion or injury we may have caused you and other applicants. We have updated this information in the release on our website and will ensure make sure this doesn’t happen again in the future. We get it.”

But as far as anyone knows, what bloggers don’t get is their money.

“It’s still extremely hurtful for them to do that,” McEwen said. “They could have at least refunded our money. They don’t think our work is good enough to deserve but have no problem accepting our money. Some of us don’t have money to spend. And, for one, I participate in things like this to bring more attention to my work. It sends the message to me that this is all just a clique and no matter how serious my efforts or how much work I put in, I’m not good enough to be in their “circle”. It’s like accusing someone of slapping him.

At press time, Pawlus did not respond to my invitation to respond to those comments or explain further, but in the email to the Pittsburgh blogger, he wrote this, “to help clarify” the judges’ decisions:

“The association uses a diverse ad hoc committee of seasoned journalism professionals to review each submission in a category. This third of judges is a panel of true peers made up of past winners, members and professionals from other journalism organizations and institutions. The judging process is extremely rigorous and the judges reserve the right to decline awards in any category if they determine that no entry merits exceptional recognition.

Details of the snub first emerged in an online conversation between members of Insiders/Out, a private Google group for LGBTQ+ journalists, bloggers, academics, PR professionals and others involved. in the news media. Michael Rogersvice president and partner of Raw Story Mediaonline news site editor RawStory.com, is the creator and administrator of the Google group, known as “I/O”.

“It’s absolutely pathetic,” Rogers told me. “Despite limited resources, these journalists have been leaders on topics ranging from the murders of transgender women to exposing right-wing attacks on LGBTQ Americans. I wonder how many citizen journalists are involved in the selection of this award? No other reporter has done the work of these nominees. This is an insult to them and calls into question the very mission of the NLGJA.”

“I’ve won the blogging category a few times and was the NLGJA LGBTQ Journalist of the Year for 2020,” King said, “and this erasure of the entire blogging category makes me embarrassed about my association with them. At best, it’s been terribly handled. What seems more likely is that grassroots bloggers lack the marquee value of the big names and honored outlets. And yes, I have submitted in this category this year.

For full disclosure, it should be noted that in this category, members of the organization do not have to pay any entry fee; Additionally, although I did not submit my work for an award this year, I am a Life Member of the NLGJA, as well as a GLAAD Media Award winner.

This isn’t the first time the NLGJA has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. In 2018, the non-profit group apologized for an inappropriate joke by an Ohio meteorologist. He welcomed attendees to the closing reception of his Palm Springs rally, sponsored by Fox News, calling them, “Ladies and gentlemen, things and his.”

At the time, NLGJA President Sharif Durhams told the Washington Post he was mortified by the incident and promised that the organization would strive to do better with its members and supporters.

Pawlus echoed that promise Friday in his email comments to the price announcement, saying, “We’ll do better in the future.” His email also stated that he was on vacation, which may explain why there was no response to my question about whether the NLGJA would refund the entry fees paid by bloggers to have their entries featured. considered for awards at press time.

But in the meantime, the vice-president of raw story and the I/O administrator had more to say about the group.

“NLGJA’s lack of recognition is evidence of the organization’s failure to recognize the true diversity of nominees’ work,” Rogers said. “Journalists covering transgender issues are virtually non-existent. Few journalists cover religious right attacks on LGBTQ communities of color, and almost no organization regularly covers LGBTQ parenting. This decision shows a lack of interest in the diversity of the citizen journalist community, all while the organization takes money from FOX Corporation, the owners of FOX News.

This story was updated on Saturday, June 25 at 11 p.m. EDT. Bookmark this link if you want to read further developments as they happen.

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