trish bendix

She was practiced at the art of deception

Posted in Uncategorized by trishbendix on February 1, 2008

My first piece of hate mail, err constructive criticism came in over my Time Out piece. I wasn’t really expecting it, but after reading the e-mail(which was also addressed to my editors), I could tell what the buried issue was.

One of my sources was unhappy with my article on queer women’s nightlife, more specifically how her events were described by an attendee. She long-windily suggested that I was attempting to pit the promoters against one another and that this was “evident from the beginning of my interview.” (What’s wrong with asking, “So do you care to respond to other promoters saying your parties suck?” Just kidding.) Sure some people named names in my interviews, but you don’t see that anywhere in the article. The whole piece is about having options–and how that is a good thing.

I don’t mind if someone is unhappy with how they are represented if I have represented them fairly and accurately. Everything she pointed out were in quotations from others, not my opinion, whether I agree with them or not. When I told her this, she suggested that I find “positive quotes” to use instead. So you mean….I interview people until I find a quote to my liking? Something that makes everyone look good? I had to tell her I wasn’t writing a press release.

Honestly, journalistic integrity has nothing to do with writing an optimistic puff piece on the lesbian community simply because I’m a part of it and want to “build it up.” Yes, I’m a part of the queer Chicago community, but that doesn’t mean I have to sugar coat to say that everything lesbians do is empowering and special. Even if I wanted to do that, it wasn’t an opinion piece so I can’t force my interviewees to say “That party is off the hook!”

It’s hard to make those who don’t write and report understand what the intent of a story is, especially if they aren’t used to being interviewed. I realize that when something is said about you, it’s hard not to take it personally. But perhaps quotes from the community should be taken as the constructive criticism instead of what this person felt the need to tell me I did wrong instead.

My editors backed me up on my “fair and balanced story,” especially since some of the attacks that were on behalf of their suggestions for the piece. They wanted quotes from women who attend these parties, and that’s what I gave them. I can’t imagine a life as a writer who went around town until she got positivity all around for the sake of making a group of people look good or feel supported. It’s just not reality, and I’m not writing fiction.


5 Responses

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  1. j said, on February 1, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    true that girl.
    besides, other people interviewed made comments on other places and none of those people are getting upset. clearly, they understand it’s a story and you can’t control what people think about it, you can only report it.

  2. trishbendix said, on February 1, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    can you imagine if i was like “Actually…that quote is negative, so i won’t be able to use it. could you rephrase ‘It sucks’ and instead say something like…’It’s better than the war in Iraq’? Thanks!”

  3. heather v. said, on February 1, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    i even read your article a second time, and still don’t see anything that seems like you are purposely attacking a party or promoter. overall, the article seems to be praising all the different options. just sometimes those options aren’t for every lesbo, but you let the people who attend them speak for themselves.

    i personally would still rather be on that rosie o’donnell cruise than have to attend one of the parties, but those are my words, not yours.

    so who cares, it was a good, fair article.

  4. j said, on February 1, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    hahaha the rosie cruise.

  5. Alicia said, on February 2, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Sounds like this chick might have had ulterior motives? Maybe it was the lady from the Red Eye!!!

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