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Getting Media Coverage: When You Can’t Beat ‘Em Join ‘Em?


Scoutby Scout, Ph.D.
Director, Network for LGBT Health Equity
At The Fenway Institute
I only play a reporter on TV?

When we started this blog we had no idea what we were doing. And why where we doing it? Not sure. We had a good newsletter, but blogs seemed I dunno, smart. It was 2009.

Well here we are less than three years later and our blog has become our information backbone. It helps us make sure we highlight different voices (we beg borrow and steal to get folk to post), keeps a handy record of news in one place, and with thousands of views each month, it’s given us much broader reach than we’d ever dreamed. Network staff have the informal motto: if we didn’t report on it in the blog, it didn’t happen. Sometimes we even meet that standard.

But sometimes we’re in these quiet meetings, where the line is a bit blurry on what you can report. So, before the White House Conference on LGBT Health a few months back I asked them to clarify what we could say on the blog.

To my surprise, when I got to the event I was registered as being from Fenwayand as press. Press? Me? Wasn’t I the guy who couldn’t pay someone to read our press releases just a few months ago?

On the other hand, they are kinda right. Even beyond our tiny blog. Only a few days earlier I’d gotten the very cool news that I’d leapfrogged up in the blogosphere. I could be a regular contributor to the premier political blog, Huffington Post. I had to admit, I was already thinking, what will I say about this event on Huffington Post?

But wait! What in the world do I know about being a reporter? My mind goes blank, uhhh…. fedoras with press passes stuck in the brim?

On the other hand, I had spent years honing my “voice” on the Network blog and on Twitter. And with the help of a few dear friends in media (name em! Mike Rogers who runs the Netroots Nation LGBT blogger precon & Cathy Renna who has her own PR firm)… I was fast getting more conversant with the flow of opeds, the 24 hour news cycle and other such industry details.

Conclusion? Yes, I was somehow becoming media-ish. Time to maybe add blogger to the CV.

At noon the White House conference switched from a public event to an off the record one. I ceremonially took off my press badge. What an odd balancing act to be there for all, but only report on some. AJ from Sebelius’ office gave me the side-eye “Off the record!” (ok she’s way too nice for side-eye but you know what I mean) Yes yes, I get it. Or at least I’ll try to get it as fast as I can. Half media, half health professional – like a centaur.

I guess I learned what so many others have already — new media has shaken up the formal hierarchy of established media like a snowglobe. Now is nothing if not the age of the citizen journalist. Applications welcome, everywhere.

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