Why I won’t Change My Profile Picture to Show My Support of X

I believe in a lot of things. I vote in every election, for every candidate that I can. I sign petitions when I truly believe in the cause. I fundraise. I support friends’ causes.

But I won’t change my profile pictures to show any of that — because I am a journalist.

You may have noticed a sea of red on Facebook by now (if not, here’s an article from one of my favorite sources, ReadWrite Social (ReadWriteWeb’s Social channel) about it). Two equal signs (made of various things; I noticed a few brands jumping on this) on a dark red background. On Facebook. On Twitter. On Instagram. I am going to tell you right now — I believe in marriage equality. I believe that two people who are LUCKY enough to find each other should be able to celebrate that love with Tiffany’s, registries and overpriced invitations.

But I do not believe that I should use my profile to show my support for this cause. I don’t think changing my identity online will do anything to change the decision of the supreme court. I think writing posts like this, having discussions with my peers — and with people in general — is what is going to change public opinion.

Voting changes public opinion. Speaking out changes public opinion.

So, I urge you, my fellow journalists and soon-to-be journalists to think long and hard before using your valuable brand space to support another cause — there’s nothing wrong with writing a status or blog post, but giving up your “face” real estate? That’s something I simply won’t do.

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  • Jake

    I think journalists have the right to express what they believe in, just like anyone else in a free society.

    Unless a journalist is, for instance, covering the Supreme Court ruling on Prop 8, which could be perceived as inappropriate, I have no problem with other journalists changing their profile pictures to support something they feel strongly about.
    It might be biased, but in my opinion equality SHOULD be something we’re biased about. Plus, we’re all biased in one way or another, whether we care to admit to it or not.

    Might I risk losing credibility by showing my support for people marrying whom they choose? No, I don’t think so.

    IMO, being a journalist does not disqualify someone from being a human being with a strong opinion.

  • miriam

    Nice post, but by expressing your opinion about gay marriage with words aren’t you basically doing what changing your profile picture does – suggesting bias that could color your reporting and damage your credibility?

  • Hi Miriam,

    Thanks for commenting! My personal feeling is that if you change your brand profile picture (which is, essentially, your logo), you’re saying your only about your beliefs. My first job at Patch.com required us to disclose who we voted for, where we grew up, etc…some essential background information and so, I’ve learned that it’s better to be upfront about my beliefs (in a written letter, profile post, etc.) rather than try to hide them. We are all biased — it’s the truly ethic journalist that admits to it AND produces unbiased stories.

    Thank you!

  • Thanks for your opinions, Jake! I really appreciate it.

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