There are difficult stories to tell and difficult mysteries to unravel. One of the challenges in the current journalism world is determining when is a story “a story” that deserves mainstream coverage and how do you go about getting the story.
The mystery behind the “disappearance” of Bryce Faulkner and the sole piece of mainstream journalism–by Fox News–provides such a story. In a nutshell, 23-year old Bryce Faulkner is a recent pre-med graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas who had a relationship with a Wisconsin man, Travis Swanson. His parents discovered the relationship and now Faulkner is allegedly in a 14-week “ex-gay” program possibly connected to Exodus International, one of the leading players in ex-gay ministry.
The FoxNews story from July 23 asserts that Faulkner was not forced to participate in anything against his will, but he just isn’t talking publicly to anyone while he goes through counseling. Referring to the Swanson as Faulkner’s “gay pal,” the story works to debunk the coerced counseling story being asserted by Swanson and the (rather creepy) website SaveBryce.
Faulkner’s story, and the subsequent story by Fox, have garnered a lot of attention online but little substantive journalism. Sky News–also owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp–had a story about the situation but it appears to be more media synergy than anything else. Discussion of Faulkner’s situation has occurred on Belerico, Daily Kos, Queerty, The Stanger, and Metro Weekly, but with no original reporting.
I’d love to know why FoxNews is the only mainstream media outlet to cover this story, especially as the story has gone viral. I’m not one of those who believes Fox is part of a giant conservative conspiracy to twist the news; they are a gay-friendly employer whose news coverage is right-of-center in the same way MSNBC is left-of-center. Their interest in the story may reflect their political bent, or it may be quite benign.
What I am curious about is why hasn’t the story attracted journalism–as opposed to new aggregation–from anyone else. Even without Faulkner, the story seems to be a perfect opportunity to talk about ex-gay ministries. It seems like a perfect opportunity to talk about all the issues surrounding coming-out? It would even seem like a great story to evaluate why some stories go viral and others don’t.
Instead, we just have a single story, a rather creepy website, and a treakly Youtube video. The story seems to deserves more.