Lavender Reporter Speaks Out Against Critics

John Townsend, the reporter at the center of the Lavender outing coverage, has written a letter to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune blasting his critics–including NLGJA–for questioning the ethics of his story.

Brock’s bully pulpit has assaulted gays and lesbians and heterosexual reproductive rights advocates for years. For some time, I had been fielding tips about psychological abuse in the St. Charles Borromeo group, including a participant who said he felt tempted to commit suicide. One victim took his complaint to various local media and was summarily rejected each time. So for me, it was clear that becoming an embedded whistleblower was the only option left. That way I could more accurately verify the truth than to write about it from the outside. To my mind, quite reasonable suspicion of real danger trumped confidentiality.

Brock’s antigay KKMS exhortations have wailed on for years, so I was puzzled in Strickler’s piece where University of Minnesota Silha Professor of Ethics and Law Jane Kirtley tried to discredit my methods, seemingly oblivious to the serial, long term breach of media ethics in her own metro area, that being KKMS. Kirtley never contacted me either.

As for handwringing by Michael R. Triplett, overseer of the National Gay & Lesbian Journalists Association, of which I am not a member, clearly his careerist club members have ignored this situation. Be a journalist first, a gay second.

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3 Responses

  1. Townsend is absolutely correct. Kudos to him for doing the story, and now for responding to wrongheaded critics. I was glad to see that Randy Cohen, the New York Times ethicist, has declared that Townsend has done nothing unethical. He rightly condemned Brock and Courage as the ones who breach ethics.

  2. One more point: in your Media column, you write: “Did Brock’s inflammatory comments justify breaking the confidentiality of those participants in order to expose him? For me, the answer is no.”

    This is a mischaracterization of Townsend’s article. He did NOT break the confidentiality of any participant other than Brock. None of the other participants is identified. Presumably, he decided not to identify them because they are private individuals who have not used the media to harass and terrorize gay people.

  3. With some effort, I found the entire letter of Townsend. I think you should have provided a link to it. It has a lot more information than what you post in your excerpt.

    Here is the link: http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2010/07/john_townsend_b.php

    I urge everyone to read the entire letter.

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