Sad Day at GLAAD: Gay Media Watchdog Lays Off 25% of Employees
It was recently announced that the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) laid off nearly 25 percent of its employees due to a slowly recovering economy and lack of donations. Many employees did not see the changes coming, however, the Advocate reported in a Jan. 20 article.
The organization let go 11 people from its 45-member staff but says its "core programs," such as Entertainment Media, Religion Faith & Values and National and Local News, have not gone away.
"It’s no secret that GLAAD experienced some real challenges in 2011," Mike Thompson, GLAAD’s interim president told the Advocate. "While the changes that took place subsequent to last summer’s tumult were in many ways healthy for the organization, the reality is that the experience had financial impacts for the organization. Our restructuring is reflective of that."
Someone who had been a key member in forming the GLAAD mission and a high up during its informative years said that the organization had a lot of internal dissension. Many members questioned if it was appropriate to accept donations from businesses GLAAD was supposed to monitor.
In addition, the former GLAAD member also claimed that they were not surprised of the massive layoff.
Last summer GLAAD became enmeshed in a corporate merger that tarnished its image as an unbiased media watchdog. After sending a statement to the U.S. Justice Department supporting the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, activists and others wondered aloud what the organization had to do with the cell phone companies and why they were backing the merger, since it had nothing to do with being "pro-gay," EDGE reported in a July 2011, article.
Jarrett Barrios, GLAAD’s president at the time, wrote a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in support of the merger. It was later discovered that Barrios wrote another letter to the FCC a year earlier backing AT&T’s stance on net neutrality. Several people began to speculate that Barrios and the cooperation were working too closely together. When Barrios tried to backtrack and even blamed his secretary, he was widely ridiculed.
On June 2011, after only working at GLAAD for two years, Barrios "resigned" along with eight members of the organization’s board of directors. One of the board members was Troup Coronado, a former AT&T lobbyist who worked for ant-gay groups as well as AT&T.