Journalists Reprimand Out Magazine for Its Journalism

Journalists Reprimand Out Magazine for its Journalism

Out magazine ran a profile online Wednesday of alt-right darling Milo Yiannopoulos that is being widely condemned by journalists, especially those in LGBT media.

The magazine’s editor, Aaron Hicklin, says the profile will span eight pages in the upcoming print issue. It includes an elaborate photo shoot, plus a series of videos from behind the scenes at the shoot. 

Now a growing list of LGBT media figures — including three who work for Out magazine — have issued an open letter condemning the story. The piece published on ThinkProgress is headlined “LGBT Media Condemns Out Magazine for Milo Yiannopoulos Puff Piece.” As of early Thursday, it had been signed by 40 people. Names include the publishers of several LGBT blogs, including The New Civil Rights Movement’s David Badash, Towleroad’s Andy Towle, and JoeMyGod’s Joe Jervis. It includes well-respected names such as Trish Bendix, the former editor-in-chief of AfterEllen who was named LGBT Journalist of the Year by NLGJA in 2015; Karen Ocamb, the famed veteran LGBT reporter; and Michelangelo Signorile, the radio host and longtime activist writer. Also signing the letter were the LGBT section editors for Think Progress, The Huffington Post, and Slate: Zack Ford, Noah Michelson, and Bryan Lowder. The list goes on with writers well known to LGBT people. 

“The Out magazine profile of Milo Yiannopoulos is a serious problem,” their lengthy letter states. “It’s not because Yiannopoulos was mentioned, nor even because he was profiled. It’s because the profile negligently perpetuates harm against the LGBT community. We expect more from our colleagues.”

The 660-word letter concludes, "Out magazine has now provided a perfect example of what not to do."

In the story, Yiannopoulos uses a transphobic slur while laughing at the idea that trans people exist. He also makes the case that gay people have the highest IQs, an argument echoing the eugenics movement. The Breitbart editor has claimed elsewhere (without any evidence) that women have lower IQs than men. And he offers a lengthy defense against accusations that he's a racist who relies heavily on his self-professed love of "black dick," which sounds like fetishism even as he simultaneously claims it isn't. He also says Muslims are a threat to LGBT people — spreading xenophobia — while arguing for a Donald Trump presidency.

Hicklin had made the case in his editor’s note accompanying the story that LGBT media had been failing by not covering Yiannopoulos. 

“If LGBTQ media takes its responsibilities seriously we can’t shy away from covering queer people who are at the center of this highly polarized election year,” he wrote, “and we ask you to assess Milos Yiannopoulos, the focus of this profile, on his own words without mistaking them for ours.”

Hicklin has taken to social media to insist that Out’s profile is actually an example of the best of journalism. 


Disagreement with Hicklin is coming from journalists on Twitter.

The managing editor for Mic wrote:

One of the lead writers for Mic’s Identities section agreed. 

BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner, who is another once named Journalist of the Year by NLGJA, was among the first to call out the story and went on to reply specifically to Hicklin’s journalism defense. (There’s a lot more on Geidner’s Twitter feed than fits here.) 

The reigning NLGJA Journalist of the Year, Dominic Holden of BuzzFeed, was disappointed by Hicklin’s response to criticism. 

Carlos Maza of Media Matters for America was among those calling out the photo shoot specifically:

The culture writer for MTV News, Ira Madison, started a hashtag #OutMagazineIsCanceledParty after offering a lengthy criticism of the story. He repeatedly criticized the story’s author, Chadwick Moore, for  posting an Instagram selfie with Yiannopoulos that had been taken during the photo shoot.

Other writers for MTV joined in the criticism.

Fashion writer Nicolette Mason strongly seconded a lengthy Twitter thread by trans activist and actress Jen Richards that called out the story.

Criticism even crossed oceans, with the LGBT section editor of BuzzFeed UK chiming in.

Out magazine does appear to have at least one defender from the journalism world.  Jose Antonio Vargas, formerly of The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, thanked the magazine for its coverage. He's founding Emerging US, which focuses on coverage of the intersection of race, immigration, and identity.

Note to readers: Out magazine and The Advocate are both owned by Here Media.

Tags: Media, Race, Politics

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