With the federal government partially shut down, the staff of the Washington Blade is coping with an unusual situation and turning it to the paper’s advantage.
Last week’s front page – during the first week of the shutdown – featured a story detailing how the shutdown impacts HIV/AIDS programs and LGBT federal workers. Chris Johnson interviewed several activists from national LGBT organizations for the story.
“Key programs for people with HIV/AIDS are among the programs affected by the government shutdown. According to a shutdown plan from the Department of Health and Human Services, the cut off of federal funds means a loss of oversight for Ryan White AIDS Grants, a freeze in new medical research at the National Institutes of Health and no more updates for treatment and prevention recommendations for HIV at the Centers for Disease Control,” Johnson wrote.
Blade editor Kevin Naff said that the newspaper, based in the nation’s capital, is working on a number of hard news and feature stories related to the shutdown. “Right now we’re working on a piece on how gay federal workers are passing the time, getting their thoughts on the shutdown and what it means to them.”
Naff said the Blade is also working on a nightlife feature about gay bars and restaurants offering discounts to federal workers who show their federal identification at the door.
As luck would have it, only a couple of weeks ago the Blade was selected to join the in-town pool rotation for the White House Press Corps, becoming the first LGBT publication to take part in the duties.
The board of the White House Correspondents’ Association approved the Blade’s application to take part in the pool along with Buzzfeed and the U.K.-based Guardian. The duty requires having a reporter monitor the president on a rotating basis to inform other members of the press about his activities within the Capital Beltway.
Steve Thomma, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, told the Blade that the vote was unanimous among the board members present and the status of the newspaper as an LGBT news outlet didn’t come up during discussions.
“This is not a political statement by the Correspondents’ Association in any way, shape or form,” Thomma said. “It is a journalistic statement. We welcome into the print pool tell-all journalists.”
Editor Naff was pleased with the decision.
“We’ve worked hard to establish the Blade’s credibility with the White House and the correspondents association. The decision to admit the Blade to the pool rotation is a credit to the hard work of our reporters, especially Chris Johnson, in recent years. The move is also a reflection of the Blade’s nearly 45-year commitment to objective, thoughtful journalism and I’m immensely proud of our staff’s hard work that led to this prestigious designation.”
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