Thursday, June 19, 2014

Letter Writing

Two days ago, KPCC's Take Two had Wall Street Journal reporter Joel Millman on air summarizing his longer piece on LGBT asylum seekers in the US. Slate did a decent breakdown of the issues in his reporting over here. My first exposure to the story, however was (as with many things) in the car driving home from work. The radio segment can be found on KPCC's website. Here's what I sent to the Take Two catch-all email at 11 am yesterday:

To Whom It May Concern,

I just wanted to take some time to let you know how disappointed I was in your coverage of this sensitive issue. I have been listening to KPCC since I was a child, and have always respected your standards of reporting and high quality programming. That made it all the more upsetting to tune in to the evening edition of Take Two to find gross misrepresentation of trans* people on your show. Your guest, Joel Millman, consistently referred to a transgender woman by male pronouns, going so far as to use her birth name rather than her preferred name. Since he was reporting on her attempts to seek asylum due to her status as a transgender woman, these incidents of misgendering clearly come from a hostility towards transgender people rather than a lack of understanding.

Misgendering one's source is sloppy and inaccurate reporting, and publicizing this woman's birth name could place her further at risk, an ethically unsound decision. This behavior engenders mistrust in news media in general, and will lose you listeners if it continues.

Again, I am extremely disappointed.


Sarah Livingston, Lab Assistant, Sexual Health Program
Health Services
Los Angeles LGBT Center

After receiving no response in what was, admittedly, a shorter time period than I would usually wait, I decided to forward the original email to all eleven people listed on the KPCC website as producing or reporting for Take Two individually. I added:

After receiving no response from the generic email, I'm forwarding this to the Take Two team individually.

As an addendum, there are plenty of more professional ways to balance such hatefulness in a guest reporter, perhaps by allowing members of the LGBT asylum community to speak for themselves, as in this piece:
It was also suggested that I attach the GLAAD media guidelines:
specifically for transgender related reporting:

Milllman's original WSJ piece was blatantly in violation of these guidelines on multiple counts, which should have suggested to your team that he would continue to act outside of them on air.


We'll see if this generates a response once work hours get started over here.