I am very much less than impressed by the way in which, since the trans man story broke, various “friends” of the Beaumont Society have been doing the rounds of message boards and trying to claim this as a witch-hunt against their organisation.
That is diversionary, dishonest and really won’t wash. The simple fact is that, in journalistic terms, the BS outed the story and all their denials amount to little more than fairly disingenuous word play.
I have been fairly scathing in my reaction to this not because i have a specific axe to grind against the BS – or at least i didn’t before i started to encounter this defensiveness on their part – but because as a press professional, i was flabbergasted by the way in which they dealt with the press. I am seriously concerned, too, at the impact on the trans community if the main source for press comment is, essentially, a loose cannon.
Particularly given that the focus for press interest nowadays is on the transsexual end of things, while however much it may have evolved, the BS remains much more closely associated with the cross-dressing end.
In terms of professionalism, i find extraordinary public expression by a press officer of the view that the press “just” make it up.
I am flabbergasted that someone who answers the phone to the press claims not to have read a newspaper in ten years. Or that they see it as “success” to have such a high media profile because they give quotes when other organisations won’t.
And i am pretty unimpressed that a large chunk of the dealing with the press goes on verbally. No way: in a field as fraught as this, statements need to be by e-mail with limited follow-up questions allowed.
There is one other thing that maybe I am picking up as a journalist, which others might miss. UK convention is NOT to name spokespersons for an organisation unless they specifically request that they should be quoted by name. That way, you can be sure that you are giving an organisational view on a matter.
Comment on a matter should usually come from a press officer or be agreed in advance with a press officer. Freelance talking to the press is a recipe for disaster.
In all the coverage I have seen, Joanna Darrell appears NOT to be given a title, but simply to be referenced as “of the Beaumont Society”.
That raises other serious questions.
Was she acting with the blessing of the hierarchy, in which case why is she not down as a spokesperson?
Or if she acted alone, then that raises another serious, serious issue of competence. For it implies that as far as the BS is concerned, individual organisers are free to chat to the press and disclose confidential information without referring the matter back up the line.
If that were the case, it would be a reason for no-one with any interest in confidentiality ever again speaking to the BS.
I do hope it is not the case. I would hope we can have some re-assurance on this.
Unfortunately, the track record so far suggest we may have a while to wait.