June 26, 2007
One-way blogging over at HRC
Posted by: Chris
The Human Rights Campaign launched a blog today called "Back Story," which promises to "weigh in on issues, provide some perspective and commentary and hopefully add to the daily dialogue," according to an initial post by Joe Solmonese, the gay group's leader.
I've added the blog over at Immigration Equality to my daily read, not only because gay immigration rights are a personal issue for me, but because I.E.'s Adam Francouer is refreshingly open in discussing tactics and encouraging feedback. Having spent 10 years observing the gay rights movement, I can't tell you how refreshing it is to see one of our organizations treat strategy as something other than a "state secret" that only the rich and well-connected can discuss behind closed doors.
Unfortunately, the initial posts on HRC's Back Story aren't too encouraging, at least when it comes to encouraging real discussion and "adding to the daily dialogue." Most of the early entries by HRC's designated blogger Chris Johnson — who handles the group's "blog outreach," as if we needed further evidence of staff bloat — are either glorified press releases or news blurbs repeated on a thousand gay websites and blogs.
It's not fair to judge a blog by its early posts, so there's still hope HRC might offer more meaty discussion and even (gasp!) take a few risks. I know firsthand that it takes awhile to grow accustomed to the blog form, and its drive-by commentary is still an imperfect fit for me. But I can make one very specific suggestion to HRC: enable reader comments.
I've been plenty critical of HRC, of course, in my years editing Southern Voice and the Washington Blade , in syndicated columns since and here on this blog. But I have always given over more space for responses and criticism than I took to use myself and, of course, this blog includes comments, and I don't censor.
In the early days of the web, I added a comments section to SoVo and the Blade websites, but we had to remove the feature after a small but determined bunch used it to write incredibly personal, nasty and defamatory comments about individual staffers (no, not me). The Blade recently opened up its site to comments again, and I wish them well with it.
Every comments section depends on a certain degree of respect and decorum, both qualities all too often missing from the Internet. But if I can handle the heat, and so can the Blade and Immigration Equality, then HRC can, too. Otherwise, we're left to conclude what we already suspect, that "improving communication with members," one of Solmonese's goals for "Back Story," is really just a one-way street.
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