Fellow blogger Phil Reese had a story earlier this week in the Washington Blade about the departure of Richard Socarides and Kerry Eleveld from Equality Matters, the LGBT wing of Media Matters. The announcement comes a little less that a year after EM launched to significant fanfare.
Despite the splashy start, it appears things soured quickly at Media Matters and EM lost its focus, becoming completely absorbed by Media Matters
Eleveld was originally named editor of the organization’s website, but her title changed several months ago to “senior fellow at Media Matters.” Thomas, who was the project’s initial director of programs, took on a role in external affairs for the Media Matters parent organization in the spring.
Thomas and Eleveld moved out of Equality Matters and “have worked at Media Matters for some time now,” according to Media Matters press secretary Jess Levin.
“The Media Matters team has all of our senior fellows on it, so [moving Eleveld to Media Matters] just made more sense, but her work appears on Equality Matters,” Levin told the Blade.
Eleveld and Socarides were outspoken in the first few months of Equality Matters’ existence, releasing a flurry of op-eds and press releases throughout the spring and pressuring President Obama to endorse same-sex marriage.
Despite starting with a staff of at least four, including A-listers like Socarides and Eleveld, the project appears to have largely fizzled. There’s no doubt the LGBT movement needed “a national rapid-response war room” focused on media messages, but the effort just never took off.
Part of the problem appears to be focus. If you look at the month of blog posts, easily 85 percent of the posts are about two outlets: Fox News and the National Organization for Marriage. Are there no concerns beyond Fox and NOM? Media Matters has long been criticized for being obsessed with Fox News–even dragging NLGJA into it–and Equality Matters appears to have been unable to escape the obsession.
But there is a larger world of concern beyond a single cable news channel and a single advocate group opposed to same-sex marriage. Sure, it’s easy to just focus on those two organizations, but is it really serving a larger purpose for improving journalism or even advocating for LGBT rights?
More: I realize I didn’t answer my own question. I think a group like Equality Matters can play an important role, it just has failed in its current formation in serving as a media watchdog. The fact that A-listers have left the group and it is now basically a one-man band suggests the commitment from Media Matters is over. That’s too bad.