Data-Driven Blogging

In our recent readings and exercise dealing with the rapid emergence of data and statistics as a driving new force for journalism, it emerged for me how the use of available data and the visualization of this information could be a significant component for the development of the GayGaze blog.

Considering that the very nature of GayGaze is pertaining to television and how gay men are typically incorrectly or inappropriately respresented therein, it’s significant to consider how inportant visualization and statistics are specifically when it comes to visual media and television in particualr.  Words and opinions are important when it comes to a sensitive subject such as stereotypes for any branch of society that might be affected by stereotypical portrayal in the media.  This is one important need that the blog provides–a place for me to write about what I see (and especially feel personally) about what strikes me as errant where gay men on television are concerned and for others to respond and participate in the discourse.

But inevitably, it’s not all about words and feelings.

Numbers and visuals must be used to portray the actual premise for the blog. And that is where the quickly emerging field of data-driven journalism comes into play.nielsen

The television industry has long been one driven by numbers. With such companies as Nielsen  providing a long history of ratings and demographic information to the television industry for television consumption and viewing habits, it’s clear that for this particular arm of the media, numbers are pivotal. (It’s no small coincidence on that note that I was just again selected as a Nielsen “tv research home.”  Their work and their numbers are real–I’m living proof!)

But how can these numbers and data play a role on GayGaze? It’s simple. One of the most effective ways to demonstrate the evolution of the portrayal of gay men on television is through compiling this statistical data provided by Nielsen and, more specifically, by GLAAD.

This is where data use and visualization concerning an electronic medium should be fairly easy and very beneficial.  GLAAD is an advocacy organization that has specifically monitored the portrayal and inclusion of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders in the media. According to its website, the organization “amplifies the voice of the LGBT community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality.”

Fortunately for those who are concerned with portrayal of the gay community on television (such as on my beat blog) and as a function of GLAAD’s above quoted mission, the organization annually releases reports of findings about gay representation in this setting.  Its publications such as the “Network Responsibility Index,” “Where We Are on TV” specifically monitors and compiles data to represent representation. These publications are exhaustive and replete with percentages of portrayal by network and break down all the statistics pertaining to gay coverage in television entertainment programming and are available for free download from the organization’s website. This will be a major source of and component of data for the GayGaze blog. While potential blog users could likewise access this information themselves, the GayGaze blog will pare down the information and making it simpler and more visual to the specific topic of gay MEN on television.

Also and as a result of our recent mapping assignment in class, I envision how mapping could also play a role on the blog. While the central topic of the blog is focused on the furtherance of the presentation of heteronormative gay men on television, I’ve included a cultural section on it as well where I provide information for other men like myself to know about cultural aspects that are more to their tastes and comfort levels than perhaps typical gay bars.  By doing hands on research, much like I have already documented on the blog, a developing map of whatever city I may live in or drawn from the experiences of others in other cities can provide men who might be same-sex-oriented but who want to know that hard-to-find information about whether to either meet other men like themselves in a social setting or even religious institutions or service providers who may cater to them more appropriately.

Essentially, then, it’s clear how data management from television studies and possibly even mapping services can provide prerogatives for my beat blog in ways that I might never have considered at the blog’s inception.