20 March 2008 – 3:11pm
by Jason Pramas


At first I wrote a long intro editorial for this inaugural post. Then I thought better of it. Because if I lead off with a 1400-word piece, that might set the wrong tone for this section. After all, the Editorial section is where Open Media Boston editors – starting with me as Editor/Publisher – will give this publication’s opinion on matters high and low. As such, these pieces should be as short and punchy as possible, no? So let’s get off on the right foot here …

First of all, welcome! This is a new project, and lots of people have worked to get it this far. We’re glad you’re here.

Second, here’s the deal with Open Media Boston … we’re a progressive news, views and arts portal dedicated to covering the Greater Boston area. We use what’s called social media technology to do that – and that means the viewers of this site can actively produce content for the site. You, the viewer, can help build a progressive news organization. That’s the media part. This organization will also be a community. That’s the social part. Everyone involved can interact with each other on this website, and also in public events we’ll host around the area. Working collectively is key to the site’s success.

Third, by progressive we mean we’re a publication of the broad left politically. For sake of ease, let’s just say that means everyone to the left of the pro-corporate wing of the Democrats (i.e., the Democratic Leadership Committee). We like participatory democracy. We believe in social, economic and environmental justice. We’re fans of equality between all peoples. We think peace is a good thing. And we’re big on the freedoms of speech and expression. People that agree with these principles will feel right at home here.

Fourth, we are a publication. Sort of like a print newspaper or magazine. We will always represent a particular point of view about the world. Folks that don’t agree with that point of view are certainly welcome to participate in this community and join in discussions and debates here, but folks that can’t follow basic rules of netiquette and behave themselves will be shown the virtual door.

Fifth, as a publication, we have an editorial board. Right now we have a couple of initial editors, including me, and we’ll be recruiting more in the months to come. The editors are responsible for looking at multimedia content that Open Media Boston community members submit to this site, and choosing what to publish to the Front Page – after screening them for relevance, timeliness, and seeing if they meet basic journalistic and production standards. Content that passes muster will be promoted to the Front Page. Everything else will remain in the Open Forum. Stories that violate our Mission Statement or Terms of Use (soon to appear on our new About page) will be deleted. Users can comment on any content on the site, subject to the same caveats.

Sixth, everyone who joins this community will do so using their real names. No one will ever be anonymous on this website. If we are building a community, and encouraging respectful discussion and debate, then transparency and the tolerance it tends to engender are important. When people can post anonymously to communities like this one, they tend to say things they wouldn’t say in person. Often hurtful, destructive, or just completely pointless things. That kind of negative environment causes site users to leave in droves. And that’s no way to build a community, now is it?

Seventh, we’re an all-volunteer non-profit publication. But we believe it’s important that everyone who produces content for the project or works as a staff person or editor should get paid as soon as that’s possible. We also realize that publishing – in any medium, and from any political viewpoint – requires money. So we’re actively looking into various non-evil ways to raise funds. Starting with the donation page that will be appearing shortly. Please, give early and give often. Even a few bucks here and there will help us enormously. And remember, creators keep all rights to their own content on Open Media Boston, we just get the non-exclusive right to display it on this site and archive it on our server. We’ll never stop you from being able to sell your content to other publications – or giving it away or sharing it with whomever you choose. Your work remains yours when you publish here.

Finally, we really want to focus on Boston and environs in most of our coverage. We will encourage everyone who provides content to the site to make sure there is a “Boston hook” in anything they submit for publication – meaning that whatever you post to this site should be connected with the Greater Boston area in some way. There are certainly content areas that can’t and shouldn’t always be Boston-centric – like satire or discussions of technology or faith – but there are many areas than can be. And we can only distinguish ourselves as a Boston news portal, if we cover Boston.

If you want to join the Open Media Boston community, it’s easy. On the left hand side of the Front Page, you’ll see a place to register for a user account. Just click that link, follow the simple instructions, and set up your account. Our system will send you a confirmation email message. Once you reply you’re all set. Then you can create content and make comments as described above.

So I think that should get you all up to speed on the basics. The rest will be covered in great detail soon on the About page.

We hope you’ll join the Open Media Boston community today. And tell all your friends. We’re in our beta test period now – working the kinks out of our system and testing new features. But we’ll be doing our full site launch within the next few weeks; so the more the merrier.

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