DISCLAIMER: More than a year ago, yours truly worked as a consultant to Christopher Street West on public affairs and strategic planning, as the organization sought to prepare for the disruptions caused by construction in West Hollywood Park and to stabilize its revenues by engaging with the community on a year-round basis. This relationship ended in July 2016. Prior to working for CSW, I had served as City Council Deputy to Councilmember Lauren Meister. With all that said, what you are about to read is NOT journalism. It probably has a unique point of view. Take that with a grain of salt, if you wish.
In his interview with WeHoTimes, Brian Pendleton asserts that nothing caused him to resign from the organization's Board of Directors but it was his plan to leave the Board after the #ResistMarch ended.
A week later, however, the story seems to have changed. A story on Pendelton's resignation in the Los Angeles Blade, citing anonymous sources, implies that something did indeed prompt Pendleton's resignation–a "widely circulated statement" from CSW that "seems to contain some veiled barbs" at the #ResistMarch.
Unlike the Blade, I will take Brian at his word. We served together several years on the West Hollywood Transportation Commission.
But if you're a journalist and you're going to cite anonymous sources to say that Mr. Pendleton was not honest with WeHoTimes, then here are a few questions I would ask and sources I would seek out:
- When did Pendleton resign in relation to the release of the "widely circulated statement"?
- If the "widely circulated statement" was "widely circulated," why did it take a month for it to be mentioned in any local media?
- Who were the authors and recipients of the "widely circulated statement"?
- Who "widely circulated" the statement?
- If any of these were public officials, have you tried a CPRA request of the emails to get a copy of the statement?
Those are just basic journalism skills if you are going to assert that someone has been untruthful.
Advocacy Jornalism: A Numbers Game
But here's the problem when we engage in "advocacy journalism" in our local media–we lie to ourselves to tell the story we want to hear.
For example: How many people attended the Resist March? 100,000 as The Blade reports? Has someone asked LAPD or the Sheriff's Department? If they did, they'd get a number between 25,000 and 30,000. Why is there such a wide variance between the publicly reported numbers and the official public safety counts? How do those numbers compare to the Parade participation and attendance in the past? I'll give you a hint: Parade estimates have varied widely over the years from 40,000 to 400,000. It's all PR and if you see that 100,000 number, you're being spun.
The Blade also sets up a manufactured controversy over Festival attendance figures. Was the Resist March responsible for the 10,000 growth in attendees or was it other factors? Does it matter?!?
The first thing a good journalist would ask of CSW was for attendance figures: how many people came on Saturday vs. Sunday and how many Sunday only tickets were purchased at the door.
CSW might provide that information, but we can also do look to some other public statements to answer the question…
Shortly after Pride, SEE Tickets' James Murphy stated on Facebook that they processed 40,000 transactions for LA Pride. If there were 60,000 attendees, and 40,000 tickets sold, then roughly 20,000 were one-day tickets and 20,000 were two-day passes. If attendance was roughly equal each day, then only about 10,000 total Sunday-only tickets were sold…which is the same number as #ResistMarch cheerleaders claim the event drove in new sales to the event.
Math tells us that the increases in attendance happened both days and cannot be attributed to the March. To claim that the Sunday increase in attendance was due to the Resist March belittles the power of the 2016 #NotMyPride movement and is frankly disrespectful of its very effective organizers at APAIT and the LA LGBT Center. Economics tells us that if the increase in attendance were solely due to the #ResistMarch, then there is no price elasticity for Pride Festival tickets. And common sense says that bad weather and a terrorist attack in Orlando probably lowered attendance figures in 2016 as well.
The truth is that LA Pride 2017 went a long way to respond to the concerns raised by the community and by #NotMyPride, while dealing with a new festival footprint AND a switch from a parade to a march, while STILL growing participation, and keeping expenses in line with revenues, more or less, and compared with last year, the story is that they're heading in the right direction (even if they're not there yet).
So, sorry for being long and rambling, and sorry if this got a little negative–that is not the tone I want to set here on This Is West Hollywood, but if a local media outlet implies that someone is a liar using anonymous sources, then they need to be called out.