With The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld now off the Washington beat, there’s often a perception that the LGBT press is absent from the White House and Congressional press rooms.
But with Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade becoming an online sensation for his questioning of outgoing press secretary Robert Gibbs about marriage, it’s a good reminder that the LGBT press in Washington has always covered “official Washington” and will continue to even if the national press pulls out. The Washington Blade has always made covering official Washington, D.C. part of its mission, which helped cement its role nationally. The paper has long had “hard pass” access to the White House Kevin Naff, the Blade’s editor (and a chapter board member of NLGJA) told me
The Washington Blade has had reporters credentialed at the White House since the Reagan administration. This is nothing new or experimental for us; we’re there now, we were there nearly 25 years ago and we’ll be there in the future.
While The Advocate has a national platform, they were actually fairly new at having a full-time reporter on the Washington beat which previously had been covered by stringers and a Washington editor.
But as Naff points out, the local press has always been the main LGBT media presence covering national stories inside Washington and the Blade has covered White House briefings, Congressional hearings, and national stories for decades with other LGBT and mainstream outlets often relying on their coverage.
The Blade is not alone. The paper’s crosstown rival MetroWeekly also covers “official Washington” but with a different focus. Here’s what MetroWeekly’s co-publisher Sean Bugg told me:
While Metro Weekly has always covered “official” LGBT Washington — the local industry is so tightly woven into the community it’s impossible not to — we have certainly increased our level of news coverage over the past two years to focus more on the White House, Capitol Hill, federal agencies and so on. It’s no accident that that increase coincided with the arrival of the Obama administration. A lot of promises were made to and hopes raised in the LGBT community with his election, so there’s a need for LGBT media to keep the government accountable, and given our perch in Washington, I think it’s incumbent on us to take on that role.
MetroWeekly added senior political writer Chris Geidner last year and his Poliglot blog has become a favorite of LGBT bloggers. While not a regular at White House briefings, Geidner–an attorney and journalist–covers Congressional hearings and big events, with an emphasis on legal issues. Geidner (and MetroWeekly) has been very successful at creating a social media presence through Twitter, podcasts, and his blog. The Washington Blade is also beefing up its social media profile, recently live-tweeting the State of the Union.
While it’s nice to have a national LGBT media presence covering Washington, it’s also a good reminder that the local LGBT press has been filling that role for decades.