joreth: (::headdesk::)
Apparently, it needs to be said -AGAIN-:  

1) "Joreth" is an online persona that is one facet of a whole person, and not the whole person.  I have several online personas, each explicitly focused on a single or related facets, and one cannot assume knowledge of the whole person based on interacting only with one persona.  She is not a character made out of whole cloth, she is *me*, but she is only one part of me.  Even the title says this is where I come to rant & blow off steam.  This is who I am when I'm fucking pissed off, but this is not who I am [period].

2) "Joreth" does not do interviews.  I conduct interviews under my real name or under pseudonyms, so that reporters do not use "Joreth" to represent the poly community.  People may find "Joreth" through those interviews, but "Joreth" is not the person being profiled in the news.

3) I have extensive experience with dealing with the media.  And I don't mean that I "shine lights on a stage".  I couldn't possibly give my entire background, but I have been working with the media, both in front of and behind the scenes, for almost my entire life.  I have been in the public spotlight for activism since the '80s.  I literally grew up surrounded by the media.  I have also been on the production side of broadcast journalism and in print news, so I know what the media is looking for, and how they get it.  There are plenty of people with more experience than me, and more polished than I.  But I know what I'm talking about, and I know what areas I don't know too.  I also utilize the resources of those more experienced and more polished than I to get even better than I currently am, since I know that I can always improve.

So what I don't need is someone telling me all about how to behave in front of the media.  And I certainly don't need someone with apparently no media training jumping into media relations and fucking up something I had just orchestrated to be positive media coverage with a MAJOR media outlet immediately after presuming to lecture ME on how to handle the media.

I had just gotten polyamory a positive portrayal on one of the nation's largest news outlets with a promise of future coverage, including expanding the story to cover some of our national poly conferences.  That's a pretty big coup and could result in some pretty big benefits to the community as a whole.  When some idiot who ONLY knows me through Twitter, decided to lecture me on proper media behaviour based only on my Twitter activity, and then brought the whole ugly exchange directly to the attention of said major news outlet.  

Yes, he actually lectured me on the perils of not representing the poly community well and then sent them a direct link to an ugly exchange that did not represent the poly community well (of course, the exchange wasn't intended to represent the community, but give it to the media & it will).

Did I mention that the interview hadn't been published yet, so he didn't even know how I had represented the poly community at all when he jumped in to complain about my behaviour with the media?  Did I mention that he doesn't know me outside of Twitter or PolyWeekly?  Did I mention that I was specifically asked to be snarky & opinionated on PW because Minx doesn't feel that she has the freedom to say certain things, so we play sort of a good cop - bad cop routine so that she can keep all her listeners but still have certain things said & still appease those listeners who like snark?  Did I mention that he was totally unaware that I had even done any prior interviews, let alone read or seen any of them?  Did I mention that I managed to get a tabloid magazine who had a prior record of screwing over a poly family in a previous article to write a decent article about polyamory when they dealt with me?

We all have been involved in some kind of tiff with others of the poly community at one time or another, and we all have seen others get into flamewars online. That can't be helped. But I would like to offer a bit of advice about dealing with these things in front of the media, especially since we're getting so much media attention right now.

Don't.

In other words, even if the argument happens "in public" on the internet, where anyone can see it if they know where to look, don't draw the media's attention to it. While we can, and should, publicly admit that there are all kinds of different people who are polyamorous, and that when we speak, we are speaking for ourselves and not necessarily for others, what we should NOT do is help the media out by actually pointing them towards community dissonance.

Giving them transcripts of a forum flame war and sending contact information / user names / real names to major news outlets is not the way to do damage control if someone happens to get on the news whom you think doesn't represent you. That just gives the media fodder to turn an otherwise human interest story into a sensationalized "rift in the community" mud-slinging scandal (which, let's face it, is much more tempting to print than a boring "all is well with us!" poly story).

So if you happen to see a news report or read an article where the respondent does not represent polyamory as you would like to be represented, please try to respond with your own personal perspective, and do not invite the media into drama regardless of your personal interactions with the subject of their stories. If you're worried about looking bad to the media, bringing to their attention your personal drama with someone is a pretty sure-fire way to look bad to the media.

Think of it as being a community organizer & publicly badmouthing your exes - generally speaking, no matter how "bad" your exes might have been, bashing them in public* (with real names & private details) makes YOU look bad and leaves a negative impression to those around you of the community as a whole as being drama-filled and conflict-ridden.

Oh, and also, wait until the story is actually published or broadcast before complaining about the person they're profiling. 1) You don't know how it's going to turn out - it may turn out in your favor and 2) that just gives them the opportunity to switch gears and highlight the community drama instead of whatever other angle they were originally going for.

I recommend sending this advice to all activists & community leaders. In order to protect the community and win battles, we need to present a unified front. That doesn't mean we should all be in lockstep, or even that we should never fight amongst ourselves, that means thinking 5 steps ahead and realizing what the media could do with a public disagreement. I also recommend that people don't contact the media themselves without the benefit of *some* kind of media training, where they might have learned tips like this one.

One of the ways that you can tell someone has no media training is when they talk about things they don't want the media to focus on.  One of the tips you will learn at PMA is to keep your shit separate.  When you do an article on polyamory, don't fucking talk about BDSM, or the SCA, or paganism, or people you don't like in the community.  If a person really is a bad representative of the poly community, YOU DON'T TELL THE MEDIA ABOUT THEM.  You don't give the media ammunition to publicize the wacky crazy shit you're trying to keep out of the media.  If the media brings something up that you don't want to talk about, you learn, through media training, how to minimize, de-emphasize, and redirect the interview to get off the subject.

But you absolutely, under no circumstances, point the media at someone or some exchange or some situation that you don't want highlighted in the media.  That's just dumb.

And if you do something like that, you have no grounds on which to be schooling ME on how to handle the media.



*Many times, anecdotes of relationships gone wrong can be very valuable for others to hear, especially within the poly community where newbies have no social role models and tend to reinvent the broken wheel every time.  An anecdote can be told to illustrate a point without mentioning the ex by name, without asking people to take sides, and without making the entire community look like nothing good ever happens there or scaring the newbies into thinking that if they make a mistake, they will forever be villified and publicly shunned.  "Bashing", as I use it, means to take private, personal details of the relationship and use them as a weapon to turn your ex into "the bad guy" in the community in a personal vendetta against him because you feel hurt.

There is room for exception here - if you are or know the victim of an assault or know of someone who is deliberately harming his partners (and by "deliberate", I mean, he either knows he's being harmful, or he doesn't realize he is, but has been told he is and dismisses it), I believe it's fair to warn others, such as what is currently happening in the BDSM community.  This is the type of situation that must be tread lightly, as sometimes people are just angry and they rewrite history from "we had a fight" to "he abused me".  There is no blanket rule for this.  Suffice to say that it's a situational circumstance that I am acknowledging exists even while I say, as a general guideline, bashing your exes publicly has social ramifications so it's probably better not to do it.

Date: 2/11/12 06:21 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] the-failed-poet.livejournal.com
Urk, that is infuriating. I'm sorry you have to deal with assholes. ~_~

Date: 2/13/12 04:35 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] shrike1978.livejournal.com
Have you heard any more on this? Is there still possible Atlanta interest coming out of this, or did this whole ordeal make that a wash?

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