Former student recognized for LGBTQ reporting

By Campus Reporter

A Columbia alumnus is creating buzz for his in-depth coverage of LGBTQ news.

Tony Merevick, a 2012 journalism alumnus, worked for BuzzFeed from September 2013 to October 2014, where he wrote “A Year Later, ‘Nothing’ Has Changed Since Transgender Woman Islan Nettles Was Killed,” a story about violence in the transgender community that earned him a nomination in the Outstanding Digital Journalism category of the 2015 GLAAD Awards.

Merevick said he learned about the honor on Twitter after a user congratulated him.

“I’m really honored that, first of all, GLAAD recognized my work as a reporter and then I’m really grateful that they’ve chosen this story—which is about anti-LGBTQ violence—as important and worthy of wider recognition,” he said.

GLAAD Director of Communications Seth Adam read the piece and said it sheds light on an important issue that is not always covered by mainstream news outlets.

“It provides a detailed and stark account of the horrific rates of violence that [transgender] women—specifically [transgender] women of color—are facing,” Adam said.

The GLAAD Media Awards, which honor news and entertainment outlets for their fair and accurate depictions of the LGBTQ community, have been around for 26 years. The nominees were revealed Jan. 21 and winners will be announced March 21.

Merevick said he discovered his passion for writing about LGBTQ issues while in college.

“I found that covering stories that make a difference in the community was a really great thing to do and I enjoyed it,” he said.

Nancy Traver, an adjunct journalism professor who taught Merevick for multiple classes, said she noticed his desire to report on the LGBTQ community early on and that he was very committed. 

Traver said her excitement about Merevick’s nomination was comparable to how she felt when he told her he was hired at BuzzFeed and that she is not surprised his work is receiving recognition.

“I have many students that I’m thrilled to watch their careers take off,” she said. “It’s just incredibly rewarding as an instructor to see students thrive, succeed and go out in the world and make journalism.”

Merevick has since left BuzzFeed and is currently a cities news editor at Thrillist New York, a men’s lifestyle website. While he no longer covers LGBTQ stories specifically, he said he has not ruled it out for the future.

“It’s a really refreshing change of pace to do something different,” he said. “As a reporter, I don’t think I should spend my entire career covering one beat. This role is really exciting, it’s opening new doors to new sources and I’m learning a lot about my city and other cities. It’s really just exciting, challenging and fun.”

When Merevick was a student, he and publisher Dane Tidwell co-founded Chicago Phoenix, a digital journalism site that focuses on LGBTQ news in Chicago.

Tidwell said Merevick deserves this honor and should win the category.

“I think he does [have a good chance of winning],” Tidwell said. “He does a really good job of building a story and explaining it well to his readers.”

But Merevick isn’t planning for a win just yet.

“I would be extremely surprised to win given the outstanding other nominations in the category,” Merevick said.

Other nominations include pieces from Al Jazeera America, The Advocate, OutSports and The Root.

Adam said he could not speculate about Merevick’s chances of winning, but the GLAAD organization is proud of all the nominees and their nominations prove they produced the best reporting this year. 

He added that not only are LGBTQ issues receiving increased attention from the media lately, but these types of stories also help people gain a better perspective on the challenges members of that community face.

“By building [an] understanding, acceptance grows and we’re able to overcome the obstacles,” Adam said.