Conversing with the Right
Yesterday, I published an unsolicited article by a conservative writer, JB Williams, who wrote Better Send 50,000 It brought some spirited comments-- some inappropriate and nasty. It also brought many more conservative readers than I'm used to seeing sending me emails.
I was surprised that some of the emails were from regular readers-- regular conservative readers. Now, I routinely get hate mail, usually, with misspellings and bad grammar, and I ignore those. But I always pay attention when I get an intelligently written email from someone who disagrees with me. There's often a lot I can learn, often more than I can learn from someone who agrees.
That's why I like to post articles from conservatives on the site. Unlike a newspaper or magazine, which is static, or even like a newspaper website, where you have to click to see the comments, here on OpEdNews, the article does not stop with the final words of the writer. COmmenters add their thoughts and these become a part of the total document. More and more, I am publishing articles I don't agree with-- from the left and right. I've learned that the more I trust our members (readers who have signed up so they can comment, submit blog diaries and articles) the better OpEdNEws gets. So I don't just base acceptance of articles on my opinions. If I strongly disagree with a writer, I may post the first comment after approving it-- a comment that disagrees with the article. Who knows. Maybe some of the conservatives coming to check the wierd liberal site that actually publishes right wingers too will take a look at some of the other content-- will think that if we are open minded about posting a diverse range of ideas, we may have more content worth looking at.
Some regular members have suggested that I shouldn't publish right winger articles. I won't publish garbage like hate monger Anne Coulter pustulantly oozes. But I will post well thought out, documented articles and OpEds. I do this hoping that our members will add comments that politely and respectfully, without nastiness dispute the positions, and lay out the progressive point of view. Unfortunately, it looks like this may bring some ignorant, rude right wingers who have no interest in politeness. That's why we built our comment flagging system. I'll be depending on you, our members, to notify the editors of inappropriate comments that have been posted. This is an experiment. I hope it works. I will readily ban abusive commenters. I banned one yesterday and will ban many more, if necessary. SO far, this month, we're on track to see close to 500,000 unique visitors. Among that big a group, there are bound to be the full spectrum of humans-- crazy, sociopathic, wonderful, altruistic, just waking up, still somnambulantly sleep walking... and our volunteer editors and I get to deal with all of them. Most of them fall into the wonderful category. Even Mr. Williams is turning out to be in that category. Our correspondence is very promising. I should also point out that we have another regular conservative writer-- John Carey, a columnist for the Washington Times. We've become friends. Many of his articles are informative and really don't have a conservative slant. Some, I post so our members can counter his positions.
I believe the progressive vision is not an extreme one, that for the most part, progressives have become the new moderates, filling the gap left by extremist republicans, and too-far-right leaning DLC democrats. I trust that the members of this site can articulate the progressive vision effectively, standing up to the conservative points of view that I publish here. I believe that posting conservative viewpoints challenges those on the left to think through opposing arguments. There's no room for name calling. It's a waste of time and diminishes the name caller's stature. No doubt, some readers, and perhaps some writers will disagree with me and leave the site. That's happened before, just because of a link to a conservative's op-ed was posted by one editor. It's pat of the job of a publisher and editor-- to make tough decisions and take risks. I've never had a course on how to be a publisher, let alone publisher of a hybrid news, opinion, blog, link aggregation site, so this is all on-the-job trial and error learning. One of the other hats I've worn most of my adult life has been in the world of biofeedback. SO I love feedback. Your thoughts and ideas, suggestions and opinions on this are invited, since its all a work in process.
One thing I know is that the web and its contents are also a work in process. There are not clear answers and there are exciting emerging properties and new dimensions of web experience, technologies and functions. It's very exciting to be playing a part in exploring those new dimensions... with you.
A Slightly Different "Ask" for Contributions
We're doing a pretty damned good job. Last week we discovered that our articles and your comments are reaching into the email boxes of probably all the members of congress. I look at the new articles we're publishing and they are looking superb... and there are more and more coming in and being published. Our new quicklink bookmark is making it a LOT easier and faster to post quicklinks. I expect that we'll be seeing many more links to great articles, which will make us even more indispensable and handy for your daily news diet.
We have big plans and want to do a whole lot more to make a difference. Your financial support will help. It seems that when I cry desperate-- which genuinely happens ocassionally-- our contributions come in better, for a day. There's no begging here. We're doing great work-- our dozens of volunteer editors, our hundreds of writers, our commenters and bloggers. When you support ups financially with your contributions, you give us the power to make a bigger difference. This is about YOU as much as it's about OpEdNews. So, please, help us make a bigger difference. Make a generous contribution today. Help make this month a record month. Send in whatever you can afford. If you can't afford anything, we still love you. And whether you contribute or not, tell any wealthy people or foundations you know, like the Democracy Alliance, that they should make a serious contribution to OpEdNews. And check with your job, if you work for a bigger company, to see if they have matching contributions. They might help support us too, now that we have non-profit status.