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Sunday, April 6, 2008

My Correspondence with PA Gay News Publisher

I have been incensed by an article that recently appeared in a publication called the "Philadelphia Gay News". I won't link to it as I don't want to support its popularity. In essence, the article reported on an interview with Hillary Clinton and then accuses Barack Obama of avoiding the "gay media". Although the article admitted that Obama sat down for an interview with The Advocate last year, it implied that this didn't count because this was only in response to the McClurkin controversy.

My umbrage climbed to new heights when it was revealed that the publisher of the article/paper, Mark Segal, is a donor to the Clinton campaign!

Well, I took my umbrage to the Internet tubes and entered into correspondence with Mr. Segal. Here's the chain so far -- I'll update it if I receive anything else from him or his cohorts.

On Saturday, April 5th, I wrote:

Dear Mr. Segal and Ms. Blazucki,

I read today your article in the Philadelphia Gay News entitled "Clinton Talks; Obama Balks". After reading it, I felt compelled to write to you to tell you how dismayed I was to see such a slanted and accusatorial article.

Under the auspices of writing an article about your interview with Hillary Clinton, you take great pains to smear Barack Obama in a very unflattering light.

This is especially troubling, considering the fact that Mr. Segal is a donor to the Clinton campaign. You failed to disclose this important fact in your article and, as a result, unsuspecting readers might think that this article was a unbiased piece of journalism, rather than a slanted missive penned by someone who who donated at least $1,000 to the Clinton campaign.

Senator Barack Obama is an amazing advocate for LGBT rights and issues and has spoken out in various hostile venues on the importance of the repeal of DOMA and the elimination of homophobia. Senator Obama has spoken directly to out community's issues and does not cynically view us as some demographic segment to which to pander.

I hope you will consider printing a correction to your article, which you deem so important as to prominently pre-empt all other content on your website with a note that discloses Mr. Segal's financial relationship to the Clinton campaign.

Very truly yours

[Monitor]

I received a reply from Mr. Segal today, Sunday, April 6, that was obviously an unfortunate copy-and-paste job, that didn't address my point regarding the conflict of interest:

I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I humbly must disagree with your facts and your false sense of our editor's position.

We state very clearly that Senator Obama spoke with The Advocate, but only after the controversy caused by his travels with an anti gay minister, and that was a limited interview. In our research, not only do we mention that interview but we ourselves were surprised to discover that the Senator has only one other interview in the gay press, which was a full interview. That was back in 2004 and given to the "Windy City Times" in Chicago.

btw, the interview and editorial were from Philadelphia Gay News, Sue O'Connell has no affiliation with PGN other then a loose configuration PGN shares with other Local LGBT publications.

A Candidate asking for our vote, must be willing to speak to our community, and not only at fund raisers where their are limited people and taking our dollars, but the full community. That can only truly be accomplished by doing what candidates do for every other community. speak to our community press.

We will continue to make our pages available to Senator Obama. It is his decision if he wishes to speak to our community. We have also suggested that their are other local LGBT publications which he might consider. He's an inspiring man, and i hope he graces our press.

btw, the interview were from Philadelphia Gay News, Sue O'Connell has no affiliation with PGN other then a loose configuration PGN has with other Local publications.

Mark Segal
Publisher
Philadelphia Gay News

In response to his email, I sent the following an hour later:

Dear Mr. Segal,

I thank you for your reply email but it appears that you might have cut-and-pasted a reply to me from an email you wrote to someone else.

As I noted in my original email, I find it troubling that the article in question did not contain a disclosure that you, Mr. Segal, are a donor to the Clinton campaign. Disclosures such as this, when there is an actual or perceptible conflict of interest, are commonplace in journalism and routinely appear when a reporter has a particular tie to the subject matter of the article.

In addition, I take strong exception to this statement in your email:


A Candidate asking for our vote, must be willing to speak to our community, and not only at fund raisers where their are limited people and taking our dollars, but the full community. That can only truly be accomplished by doing what candidates do for every other community. speak to our community press.

This is both misleading and inaccurate, for two reasons.

Firstly, Senator Obama has spoken to millions of people, including a variety of audiences hostile to LGBT causes, in televised appearances at the Ebeneezer Baptist Church and Rick Warren's church, about the damage that homophobia causes. I challenge you to research an article on any instance where Hillary Clinton has appeared in front of a hostile audience and spoken out on LGBT issues.

Lastly, you say that Obama "must be willing to speak to our community" and, in response, I can assure you that he is, in fact, speaking to our community. The gay ghettoization of the post-Stonewall era is steadily eroding, as evidenced by the straight gentrification of previously gay strongholds such as the Castro and West Hollywood. Part and parcel of this de-ghettoization is the diminished need and market for "gay only" media. When I found word of your article on Clinton and Obama, this was the first time that I -- and most of my friends -- had bothered to open a "gay publication" in over 10 years. Barack Obama speaks to each and every one of us because we are all, at our root, Americans. And when Barack Obama speaks to Americans, Gay Americans, and Transgendered Americans, he doesn't need to do so through the mouthpiece of some myopic "gay publication". He speaks to me through ABC News. He speaks to me through The Economist. And he speaks to me through his rallies and campaign emails.

I encourage you to, at the very least, print a correction to your article that points out your conflict of interest. Additionally, I encourage you to look beyond your small one-town paper and realize that gay people no longer rely on the "gay media". To your point, you and your ilk are NOT my community press and do not speak for millions of gays and lesbians across our country.

Your very truly,

[Monitor]

If you want to write an email of your own, or give them a call to politely express your displeasure, here is their information:

Publisher
Mark Segal (215) 625-8501 ext. 204
mark@epgn.com

Editor
Sarah Blazucki (215) 625-8501 ext. 206
sarah@epgn.com

4 comments:

Nada Cascadia said...

Interesting that I received a nearly identical reply to my email that I sent. Here is my original email and the editor's reponse.

***************************

from Mark Segal, Publisher [mark@epgn.com]
to "(( michael ))" [nada.cascadia@gmail.com],
date Sun, Apr 6, 2008 at 11:33 AM
subject Re: Disappointed in Your Anti-Obama Article


I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I humbly must disagree with your facts and your false sense of our editor's position.

We state very clearly that Senator Obama spoke with The Advocate, but only after the controversy caused by his travels with an anti gay minister, and that was a limited interview. In our research, not only do we mention that interview but we ourselves were surprised to discover that the Senator has only one other interview in the gay press, which was a full interview. That was back in 2004 and given to the "Windy City Times" in Chicago.

btw, the interview and editorial were from Philadelphia Gay News, Sue O'Connell has no affiliation with PGN other then a loose configuration PGN shares with other Local LGBT publications.

A Candidate asking for our vote, must be willing to speak to our community, and not only at fund raisers where their are limited people and taking our dollars, but the full community. That can only truly be accomplished by doing what candidates do for every other community. speak to our community press.

We will continue to make our pages available to Senator Obama. It is his decision if he wishes to speak to our community. We have also suggested that their are other local LGBT publications which he might consider. He's an inspiring man, and i hope he graces our press.

btw, the interview were from Philadelphia Gay News, Sue O'Connell has no affiliation with PGN other then a loose configuration PGN has with other Local publications.

Mark Segal
Publisher
Philadelphia Gay News

On Apr 5, 2008, at 11:41 PM, (( michael )) wrote:
> Dear Mr. Segal and Ms. Blazucki,
>
> This email is in regards to your article in the Philadelphia Gay News entitled "Clinton Talks; Obama Balks". After reading it, I was very surprised and disappointed with your characterization of Obama.
>
> Two weeks ago, on March 21, 2008, in the Press Room after a huge rally, Obama answered this question from a "Just Out", which is a local GLBT paper in Portland, when asked about what a President can do to bring equality to gay Americans:
>
> "I was one of the chief architects of the human rights ordinance in Illinois, that ensured no discrimination in housing or employment. We are now trying to support a similar effort at the federal level. We should have a strong civil union that is recognized by the Federal government. Right now, even if you enter into a civil union you aren"t getting the same right and responsibilities at the federal level. I think we need to repeal don"t ask don"t tell."
>
>
>
> And a month ago, Obama spoke to a crowd of mostly African-American Christians in Texas, and he told them that homophobia is not Christian. He didn't say this to a GLBT-friendly crowd in Portland, Oregon, he said this to Christians in Texas.
>
> I was proud of Senator Obama's statements in these two incidents, and there are countless others if you bothered to use Google. I understand that the Democratic race is a close one and we all have strong opinions about the candidates. But if we are going to attack a presidential candidate on GLBT issues, isn't Senator McCain a much more appropriate target? I have never read your paper before, but my one experience has left me saddened. Your tag line on your paper is "Honesty Integrity Professionalism", and yet this act of yours is none of those things. I expect more from members of the GLBT community.
>
> Regards,
>
> --
> michael hanna
> e: nada.cascadia@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Mark Segal gets the Gold Star for cutting-and-pasting!

Mr. Segal sent me the same email "appreciating my enthusiasm" and asserting his belief that "a candidate asking for our vote...must be willing to speak to our community...not only at fund raisers where their are limited people...but...speak(ing) to our community press."

**********************

Senator Obama has talked in mainstream churches about homophobia. He has talked about the need for fair treatment for LGBT people in front of millions on national TV at his victory speeches. And yet Mr. Segal crys “Obama Balks” because he hasn't talked to the PGN? I find it much more powerful to be included in the mainstream. In the words of the Human Rights Campaign, “It’s been said that if every gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person suddenly turned purple, the very next day we’d have equal rights. Why? Because people would realize that someone they know and love is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender — and that’s how hearts and minds are changed.” Preaching to the converted is fine, but promoting equality in the hard places is crucial. I believe that Senator Obama will continue to speak to our community in the mainstream press and I look forward to seeing more from him in community press dedicated to honesty, integrity, and professionalism in journalism.

**********************

Mr. Segal made me feel special with this second email (possibly customized especially-for-me?):

If you've ready my weekly column that would have been known to you, but will have more on the story in next weeks PGN.
Best,
mark

I couldn't make this up.

Anyway, Mark Segal might consider sticking to crayons until he completes a couple more remedial classes in spelling and grammar.

**********************

Yes We Can!

jay lassiter said...

my video blog about this topic....
feel free to forward widely
http://youtube.com/watch?v=wJnuLWxpmE0

Anonymous said...

I think publisher Mark Segal is just bitter because Obama speaks to LGBT issues everyday in his stump speeches and now again to "The Advocate" instead of through Segal's "PGN" bar rag.

Isn't it time for Hillary to denounce and reject Mr. Segal and for Mr. Segal to retire? LOL!

Anyway, once again, Obama has weathered the brouhaha and is the clear choice for LGBT voters!

Yes We Can!

http://www.advocate.com/exclusive_detail_id53285.asp