by Tonio, Feb 12, 2017, (incorporating edits by the estimable Jo Ferova)
We have embarked upon an enterprise and we now have a blog-type thingy of our very own. Thanks to the web design people, lawyers, funders, cheerleaders, naggers, cranks and everyone else who made this possible.
Now what? How much content do we need to post to stay respectable? How much of that needs to be original, and what’s the article length we are trying to hit? Is there an editorial committee? What are our standards?
We’ve made a big splash on opening day with multiple articles. Can we maintain this and attract enough others to provide like-minded, high-quality articles?
We. Need. Content. There are no requirements for journalism degrees, publication credits or other mainstream media credentials. We as commenters have been providing content, some of us for years. This is our strength. We are not the mainstream media and we do not live in their bubble. We are scientists – noted chemists, researchers into gravitational waves, innovators in robotics and engineering. We are teachers and cooks, lawyers, web and tech devs, Uber drivers, clerks and weirdos, and we have been making waves and driving our own conversation for plenty long enough.
We got this, and we have the education, skill and life experience to back it up.
Some things like Betsy DeVos’ confirmation require very little effort, research or writing – it’s basically cut and paste. Just like the AM/PM Links articles on that other website. Can be done by pretty much anyone. This is the non-original content, aka news.
As to the tone of the enterprise – I would not seek to impose any rules on anyone else, but here are the things I’m going to strive for: no backbiting of H&R, Reason or the Reason Staff in editorial content. I don’t want this to be a bitchfest. I don’t want this to turn into something that only exists to react against something else. That way lies the shrill pettiness of blogs like “A Smarter Andrew Sullivan,” “Sully Watch” and (gods help us) “Sully Watch Watch.” Reactions to the writings of others are always fair game.
If Shikha Dalmia does another “Fascists had it coming because speech is violence” tweet I would consider it fair to react against that, to point out that Dalmia has a history of anti-free speech tweets and to give an impassioned defense of the First Amendment. Leave the name-calling to the commenters – ours or theirs. Refer to her as Shikha Dalmia initially and thereafter as Dalmia.
Now, as to our former colleagues back in the old country: I will not begrudge anyone for simply staying at H&R. I will encourage people to join us but never hint or insist that they leave H&R.
Our comments added value to H&R – not much, but enough. Both by driving page counts which drives advertising revenue, and by attracting others to the debates, fact-checking snark, trolling and general cringe-worthiness. We’ve seen SugarFree’s stories plagiarized by the WaPo, I’ve seen arguments and turns of phrases used by myself and others show up later in other places. Some of those people will follow us to our new home and Reason’s loss shall be our gain. I have no interest in harming Reason, but as libertarians often point out, not-giving is a very different thing than taking. They are no longer advancing our needs, so we should no longer give them aid and comfort by adding value to their site. We are competing with them in the marketplace of ideas.
A/N: (originally published as “The Road Ahead,” edited to reflect evolving situation)