By Anna-Liza Badaloo
For CWA Canada
Covering Pride Month no longer means attending large, in-person events. Pride organizations are getting creative, offering hybrid programming and interactive digital experiences. But the very changes that make Pride celebrations more accessible and engaging for attendees, can make it harder for media professionals to cover. How can we adjust our Pride Month coverage strategies to make sure we’re getting the whole story?
I sat down virtually with Executive Director of the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) Andrea Arnot, to get her tips on how media professionals can best cover Pride Month events this year.
What Pride organizations learned in 2020
“We’ve had to shift from being live event producers to digital event and content producers,” Andrea notes. Last year organizations had to pivot quickly to transition fully planned in-person events to digital versions. But this year they had time to plan celebrations explicitly designed for hybrid or fully virtual spaces.
The VPS is making significant changes to this year’s Pride celebrations based on feedback from 2020 event participants. “The digital format made it much more accessible to those who couldn’t previously attend,” Andrea explains. “Attendees also wanted more interaction and sharing opportunities. This year we’ve ramped up the interactivity for both digital and in-person events.”
What does this mean for media coverage? Here are two key tips for media professionals to keep in mind.
Book ahead to cover in-person events
Not everything has gone 100-per-cent virtual — many Pride organizers across Canada are holding small, in-person events. However, events might require pre-registration for a limited time slot. Keep up on quickly changing pandemic-related gathering restrictions in the region(s) you’re covering. Plan ahead to ensure you can attend and report on in-person Pride events safely.
Expect more community-based coverage
Many Pride organizations plan to broadcast videos and images submitted by the community, and stream live coverage and interviews from their own roving reporters.
This community-based reporting style means you need to check the social feeds and streaming platforms of Pride organizations often to keep up. Expect to share more event coverage from community members, and via Pride organizations’ in-house reporting teams. Don’t forget to access recordings of events and interviews.
Why don’t all Pride events happen in June?
June is considered Pride Month across the globe, to commemorate the impact of the Stonewall Riots. Why don’t all events happen during Pride Month? The answers have to do with community.
“If everything happened in June, we could only attend one event! Canadians can attend Pride festivities across the country from May through the end of September,” notes Andrea. “Some even make their travel plans around it, and intentionally visit different communities. Every community has a different story and history, and no two Pride celebrations are the same.” Media professionals should consider covering multiple Pride events across the country to reflect the full diversity of celebrations.
June-only celebrations would also prevent larger Pride organizations from building capacity in smaller communities. VPS has provided mentorship and funds to organizations such as Fraser Valley Pride started in 2013, and the new Delta Pride Society. Andrea strongly encourages the media to cover these smaller events, noting that “small-town Pride festivals are such a different experience and energy.”
Pandemic or no pandemic, digital Pride experiences aren’t going anywhere. This year, I challenge you to try something new. Cover a virtual Pride event that you’re never covered before. Safely attend an in-person event in a small town you’ve never been to. Who knows? You may just find a fresh new angle or gain a new perspective. And isn’t that what great media coverage is all about?
(Anna-Liza Badaloo is a member of the Canadian Freelance Guild. She is a writer, knowledge translator and education disruptor exploring the connections between health equity, integrative health and planetary health.)