Add Matt Smith of the SF Weekly to the Salacious Sex Work Reporting Blacklist

At the Desiree Alliance this summer in Chicago, there was much discussion around media and one of the ideas that was brought up was to create a blacklist (and a good list) for reporters and interviewers who cover sex work-related issues.

Well I’m starting by adding Matt Smith of the SF Weekly to the blacklist based on this article. Not because it was an article that doesn’t support Prop K or sex workers rights per se, but because of the use of ridiculously sesationalized phrases like “blowjobs-for-badges” and his general tone of discrediting sex workers, their self-reported hardships, and any research conducted by people who have worked in the sex industry about sex work.   He spends the entire article tearing down Alix Lutnick’s SWEAT study, (as well as mis-spelling her name and the St. James Infirmary) and the idea that cops may regularly solicit sex, either as a bribe or as a client, from sex workers, and then only comes in at the very last paragraph to admit that possibly this phenomenon is worth looking into (based on the testimony of a public defender, who as someone who only works with sex workers from the outside is the only person he’s willing to believe on the matter, certainly not anyone who’s ever been in the industry themselves.)  Anyway, for somebody criticizing research techniques and demanding “hard science” this is dirty, sloppy, biased reporting and I don’t think Mr. Smith deserves the privilege of further interviews.

6 Responses

  1. Do you know how much money out community has paid them over the years?

  2. You know, it would be a good idea to have a black list and a white list of media personalities/reporters with respect to their coverage of sex worker issues. That way, we’d all know who to talk to and who to avoid because of shit like you describe.

    B-N-G seems like a reasonable place to host such a list.

    I think we can add Diane Sawyer to the black list. lol

  3. Here in New York, Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! covers sex work in a professional manner, although I don’t know if she’s had an actual sex worker on her program.

    Her co-host, Juan Gonzalez, also has a column in the New York Daily News.

    Greg Palast, who works for the BBC, hasn’t written about sex work per se, but he wrote about the Spitzer phenomenon quite accurately.

  4. I don’t think this article qualifies for blacklisting. He’s being skeptical of a study, but I didn’t think he was disrespectful, and he did say the issue was worth looking into. All he really said was that the study was flawed and didn’t prove that this was an everyday occurrence. Journalists are supposed to be skeptical of all their sources, and I didn’t feel that he was holding sex workers to an unequal standard.

  5. “But when Proposition K supporters tell you — without offering anything close to proof — that the SFPD is populated with horny shakedown artists whose felonious habit is fed by antiprostitution laws, you should know this claim lacks substance.”

    Considering there are substantial reports of similar behavior in several major American cities, namely DC and NYC on the east coast, where I’m located, it seems rather uninformed and questionable that any self-respecting “journalist” would make such a statement. If it’s happening, exactly has stated by the SF proponents, in other American cities, then why the quick assumption that SF is above such behavior—highly unlikely. Or is it possible that he didn’t look any further?

    Read Different Avenues’ “Move Along: Policing Sex Work in Washington DC” and reports by the Sex Workers Project at NY’s Urban Justice Center: “Revolving Door” and “Behind Closed Doors”.

    Digging a little further into this topic could have easily led him to those sources. But something tells me he didn’t look that hard.

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