How Do You Stay Informed About LGBTQ Issues? #AMPLIFY

Dialogue swirling about ‘fake news’ and the impact it has on our very real lives

We ask each AMPLIFY contributor to tell us how they keep abreast on these matters. As you might expect, each person gave us a unique response. But we dived into the data and did a little light sorting to tease out trends and common sources. Here’s what we found

  • 41% mention Facebook
  • 30% mention friends or family
  • 23% mention the Internet
  • 21% mention ‘social media’
  • 12% mention Twitter
  • 3% mention Tumblr
  • 19% mention a specific LGBTQ news/website
  • 12% mention a specific LGBTQ group or organization by name
  • 9% mention mainstream or traditional media sources

Please note that this is a general overview and not a rigorous analysis. Obviously, some folks mention multiple sources in their responses.

Now what does the actual social science data tell us?

According to a 2013 Pew Study of the LGBT community, 80% of the LGBT community use social networking sites, specifically Facebook or Twitter. This compares with 58% of the general public (and 68% of all internet users.)

Another interesting fact from this same study – 16% say they regularly discuss LGBT issues online; 83% say they do not do this.

Is it reasonable to conclude that we are absorbing or accessing our information from online sites and/or online conversations, but not necessarily participating in those conversations? This other finding from the Pew study might explain why:

About four-in-ten LGBT adults (43%) have revealed their sexual orientation or gender identity on a social networking site. While roughly half of gay men and lesbians have come out on a social network, only about one-third (34%) of bisexuals say they have done this.

Thinking locally, nearly every LGBTQ organization in this region has an online presence and specifically, a Facebook presence. So they have a foundation to build upon and reach folks with important news. The challenge is whether they have the internal capacity to create engaging content that supports their mission and the needs of their constituencies. AND can they do so understanding that many potential engagements might not come from people who openly like the page (the ‘out online’ factor?)

My general observation is that community groups use Facebook to promote their special events and activities rather than their day to day services & supports. Several do curate news from other sites, but there’s no discernable pattern or reason.

Another #AMPLIFY question also sheds some light on this issue. We ask: What LGBTQ friendly resources are available for your neighbors?

27% of our contributors responded “nothing, none that I’m aware of, I don’t know” or in similar fashion.  That’s, IMHO, a significant disconnect – lots of people online, lots of organizations online and yet a missed connection.

To be fair, some regions literally have no local services or supports. Still, we have two organizations that profess to serve all of Western PA – Persad Center and the Delta Foundation. We have clusters of organizations in Southwestern PA and a smaller cluster in Erie. Other than that, it is very hit or miss. I’ll explore this question in more detail in another blog post, but I did want to reference the reality that more than a quarter of respondents don’t know of any local resources which may influence how and where they get their news and information.

We have no local or regional LGBTQ media. We do have several blogs, including this one, but bloggers are usually not journalists, including me. We should not be the primary source of information, but a secondary source for analysis and opinion. I don’t think this region can sustain a LGBTQ media outlet given the population density of LGBTQ residents.

Add to that the reality that only two media outlets – WESA and The City Paper – use a reputable LGBTQ style guide.

So without a strong regional news presence and lacking strong connections to LGBTQ community groups with a regional presence, what are the consequences for a local populace to be well-informed about news and information?

Now that’s a good question.



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