Each month at about this time, we normally celebrate the accomplishments of an established SPJ volunteer. We usually post a congratulatory, brief essay about how much we appreciate their hard work. People are lauded for their contributions to chapters, to campuses, to committees, to national-level volunteer efforts.
But this month, the dark shadow of the Orlando nightclub shooting hangs over us as we write. Forty-nine lives were lost, more hang in the balance, and we all are awakened anew to the danger that LGBTQ people face daily just for living their lives – and that includes journalists. Note: If you haven’t read it yet, see Sandra Gonzalez’s excellent post about the Orlando massacre on Who’s News, the Diversity blog. She notes that a journalist was among those killed: Jonathan Camuy had been an active member in a student chapter of National Association of Hispanic Journalists in Puerto Rico before moving to Florida to work for the Telemundo network.
Although same sex unions were legalized by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling one year ago, discrimination and hate remain. We’ve all been reminded of that this month.
We can’t write another word until we spend some time honoring and recognizing those who go about their daily duties as journalists with a heightened sense of caution and fear.
Journalists are often the first or second on the scene of a crime. We interview people on a daily basis who are in crisis, are angry with governments or each other. Emotions run high, and in those situations, journalists can become targets. This is all the more true for LGBTQ journalists.
We usually honor members in this space. But today – we honor everyone. Every journalist who is LGBTQ – we stand up today to tell you we are with you. We support you. We honor you. We stand hand-in-hand with you as you do your jobs in the face of intolerance, in the face of hatred. We applaud the work you do to exhaustively cover the murder of your own in Orlando.
We will be marking #SPJ4all next week — our annual hashtag event that invites journalists to post a selfie and use the hashtag #SPJ4all. This year, this effort will have extra meaning for us. We hope that everyone will join us on June 21 to say that ALL are welcome in SPJ — and that journalists of every race, nationality, and orientation are welcome and needed.
LGBTQ journalists: you are our journalists of the month.
Paul Fletcher, President, SPJ
Lynn Walsh, President-Elect, SPJ
And from the SPJ Membership Committee,
Robyn Davis Sekula, Chair
Maria Ortiz Briones
Susan S. Stevens