Bil Browning

NLGJA: Why I've Joined the Board of a National Organization

Filed By Bil Browning | September 15, 2011 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, The Movement
Tags: National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, NLGJA

Yesterday, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association made it official.

NLGJA announces newest board member

Thumbnail image for nlgja_logo.jpegWashington, D.C. - Today the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association announces the addition of Bil Browning to its national board of directors for a 2011-2013 term. Browning is editor-in-chief and founder of The Bilerico Project, a popular LGBT news and opinion site.

"Building a stronger presence in our leadership for our blogger community is important to our diversity efforts and growth," says David Steinberg, National Board President. "We're looking forward to working with Bil and advancing our mission this next year.

Bil and his partner live in Washington, DC.

Browning was confirmed at the recent board of directors meeting, held in Philadelphia at the annual LGBT Media Summit & National Convention of NLGJA. In addition to Browning, the board confirmed new terms for Vice President/Broadcast Jen Christensen, Secretary Ken Miguel, Treasurer Trey Graham, and Board Members Kevin Barry, Matthew Berger, Barbara Dozetos, Susan Green, Patty Mattern and Steve Rosen.

While I wasn't able to attend the NLGJA convention this year, it's gratifying to not only be the first independent blogger to win the Excellence in Online Journalism Award, but to also be elected to serve on the organization's board of directors.

Some thoughts on why I'm joining the board after the break.

The NLGJA has had its fair share of criticism in the past few years. If you're going to improve something, constructive criticism is always healthy and the org has listened to concerns and addressed them forthrightly. Unlike some groups that use the "ostrich approach" to critics, the NLGJA has always been willing to dialogue and potentially change direction based off member (and non-member) concerns.

I've had strong words for NLGJA in the past for ignoring the blogosphere. Citizen journalists weren't treated like grown ups by the organization - which featured newspaper, radio, and television journalists over citizen journalists. Even after establishing the award for online journalism, the award went to corporate owned sites but not a blogger.

I know that several other bloggers have expressed the same lack of support to NLGJA leadership. In a late 2010 post on the organization's website Vice President of Print and New Media Michael Triplett acknowledged tension after Bilerico contributor Karen Ocamb took the organization to task over a different issue on her own site.

Veteran LGBT press journalist Karen Ocamb has raised questions on her own website and Huffington Post about NLGJA's purpose and mission that is worth exploring. Her concerns underscore the tension that exists in NLGJA between journalists in the traditional press, the LGBT press, and citizen journalists.

When Jerame and I moved to DC, Michael was one of the first people to ask me to go to lunch and talk about the blogosphere and how the NLGJA could best approach the massive beast. This was followed up with a meeting with Executive Director Michael Tune - a quick coffee chat that turned into a two hour conversation. I found them both to be very receptive to working with citizen journalists but completely at a loss on what to do to kick things off.

Knowing that the leadership of the organization didn't have anyone with expertise in the subject able to lead a conversation on the topic, let alone come to a solution, I decided to throw my hat in the ring. My activism has always been guided by the strong belief that if you're going to complain about a problem, you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and work on solving it.

That's what I plan on doing. I'm grateful that the membership of the NLGJA thinks I'm up to the task and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the board on this and other issues as we continue the NLGJA's history of enhancing the professionalism, skills and career opportunities for LGBT journalists.

If you're a citizen journalist and you're not an NLGJA member, consider joining the organization and helping me to guide it where we'd like it be to best help us. Whether you access the peer-to-peer program, the online job board, or the professional development opportunities, there's a lot that the group has to offer for those of us without professional journalism school training.

I'd be interested in hearing thoughts from my fellow bloggers (large and small) about ways the NLGJA could best support them. What do you need that the organization can provide?

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Good piece and important that you wrote it. I followed the 'Convention' via the tweetosphere and wondered where all the bloggers were, since the membership rules only call for have earned 'any' money as a LGBT supportive writer. Hope more join. Especially with more in the MSM also coming out and thus enlarging the entire viewer/reader audience.
Will Share and RT.

Rachel Bellum | September 15, 2011 9:33 PM

Congratulations on joining the Board. I'm sure you'll contribute significantly towards building a more egalitarian association.

Congratulations, Bil! The on-line world is well represented by you!

Congratulations, Bil. Having been on both sides of the blogosphere/MSM divide, believe me when I say that I hope you enjoy plenty of success in bringing the two together.