Earlier today, Howard authored a post entitled, "The Batavian is an open forum" that discussed, in my view anyway, the current state of The Batavian and the evolution of The Batavian. It was an interesting take by Howard, but I think he missed the mark in a few areas.
I have been a fan of this blog since its inception. It is because of The Batavian that the Daily News (who had long been without a website) decided to join the rest of the newspaper world in introducing a website to the fold. The Batavian also proved to be key during the 2008 elections - a perfect year for a blog such as this one to start and get off the ground running.
But I do take issue with a few things Howard said in his post. In discussing the political leanings of readers and contributors here at The Batavian, Howard said the following:
There was a time when Republicans thought The Batavian was hostile to their positions. Many of the original members of the site were active in local Democratic politics, and I think Philip Anselmo leaned a bit to the liberal side.
While I espoused a localist-libertarian position, I was (and am) non-partisan.
In this environment, Republicans didn't see many of their ideas being put forward and thought their viewpoints would be unwelcome.
Now, I'm hearing the Democrats are thinking of The Batavian, especially since Philip left, is hostile to their party and positions. Nothing could be further from the truth. Naturally, I'm going to be critical of big government programs being pushed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand or more taxes and spending from David Paterson, but that's because as a libertarian, I think those are bad policies. It has nothing to do with party affiliation. I'm critical of Republicans when they espouse more government solutions to problems.
I don't know how accurate it is to say that Republicans "thought The Batavian was hostile to their positions." Let's be real: The Republicans weren't reading. There were a few Republican contributors, including Genesee County Legislator Jerome Grasso, but the Republicans weren't represented here. It is one thing to claim hostility. It's another thing to be not active. The Republicans weren't active. The Democrats took advantage of having a new medium and did what we do best: We used it. We didn't see it as something foreign.
The Republicans weren't posting any of their ideas. And to say that their viewpoints would be unwelcome is a joke. If they aren't posting and aren't trying to post, how can we make such a statement and claim it as fact?
I'm not sure where Howard gets his facts about Democrats labeling this blog as "hostile to their party and positions." That word "hostile" is getting tossed around rather liberally (no pun intended) and I'm not sure where the perception of hostility is derived. I think the belief is that Howard has tried a little too hard to try and erase and previous views that this blog was friendly to Democrats. He might not agree with that view, but that is something I have noticed over the last several months and I know I'm not the only one who shares that view. Does that mean we believe that this blog is anti-Democrats as a result? No.
It is no secret that Democrats/progressives have had great success in online organizing and with the blogosphere. The Republicans/conservatives haven't had the same success. If that is what they consider "hostile", then maybe they need to be more proactive than reactive. I recall Grasso mentioning this same point. He called on his Republican friends to contribute. Apparently, instead of showing up, they chose to stew about it and allege "hostility."
Unless a blog has a certain identity (progressive, conservative, libertarian, socialist, etc.), then there really isn't a need to worry about who is utilizing the blog more than others. If there are more conservatives utilizing a blog like The Batavian, all the power to them. The Batavian isn't targeting one ideology over another. So there is no reason to try so hard to balance things out, nor is it necessary to try and debunk any claims by one party or another about one side being favored over another.