My Trip to the Bloggers’ Conference
Mrs. Marx’s Homeroom
Last weekend I went to a bloggers’ conference in Washington D.C. It was a lot of fun. There were a lot of kids there from other schools. We talked about government and computers and how we can make the world better for every body. Washington D.C. is the capital of our country. There is a big Christmas tree there, and a museum with lots of
butterfiles butterflies. I hope we can go back soon.
I’ve never done one of these conference reports before. I’m not quite sure how you do it. I was at the National LGBT Blogger and Citizen Journalist Initiative in D.C. last weekend, and some people have said that they want to hear about it; but I’m not sure how to do that in a way that’s not mind-bogglingly tedious. So instead of talking about the high points of what I did, I think I’ll talk about the high points of what I learned.
In political discussions, don’t use the generic word “we.” If you’re talking about a group, be specific.
It’s important to take on difficult, thorny issues of race, class, gender identity, nationality, etc. — even if you’re not totally comfortable with it. In other words: White people have to talk about race, middle- and upper- class people have to talk about class, non-trans people have to talk about trans issues, etc.
When you’re taking on difficult, thorny issues of race, class, gender identity, nationality, etc., and you fear that you’re going to put your foot in it because it’s not your particular issue and you don’t know enough about it… acknowledge that from the outset. Frame your piece in the form of questions you’re asking rather than opinions you’re asserting, and ask for feedback. People will cut you more slack for mistakes you may make if you make it clear that you’re aware of your limitations.
When other people are taking on difficult, thorny issues of race, class, gender identity, nationality, etc., and they make mistakes, don’t be an asshole about it. If you think they’re perpetuating misinformation or bigotry, call them on it — but the flame-war dogpile of a jillion people screaming “You’re an asshole” does not foster mutual understanding. Cut each other some slack for good intentions already.
The LGBT community needs to stop defining ourselves as victims, and start defining ourselves as victors. Framing ourselves as victims feeds into our opponents’ narrative (we’re whiny, we’re weak, we want special rights, etc.) Instead of demanding equal rights, we should demand equal responsibilities: demand to be equal participants and contributors in making our country/ world stronger and better. We need to frame our demands not in terms of what we want, but in terms of what we have to offer.
On that topic: The LGBT community should frame our history as part of the narrative of American history: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And when we do that, we should frame it in a positive way — not as part of the American history of bigotry and brutality and oppression, but as part of our historical arc towards equality and justice.
There are different forms of political communication: education, persuasion, and motivation. With persuasion, you have to meet people where they are.
The LGBT community should encourage our straight allies to stand up for us. (See “taking on difficult, thorny issues” above.)
Conservatives tend to have a hive mentality, and are by nature better at all staying on one message than progressives. But progressives don’t need to see this as a weakness on our part. We have a strength that conservatives tend not to: the ability to see a wide variety of viewpoints on a topic. When co-ordinating our efforts, we don’t have to all take the same talking points — but we can co-ordinate our diverse efforts (such as co-ordinating the timing of posts on big stories to maximize attention).
If you’re going to do TV appearances, practice in front of a camera — find your sweet spot, the angle from which you photograph best, and stick with it. Stay present on camera — “adjourn the court” of self judgment, you can’t be a participant and an observer at the same time. On a microphone, talk softer than you normally would in public speaking, as if you were talking into someone’s ear — it will pick up the nuance of your voice better. You live with video forever, so be careful of what you say on camera. Don’t let your appearance distract from your message. Have good posture. And on camera, no matter how mad you are, your default should always be a smile. (Examples: Bill Clinton and Rachel Maddow.)
To do effective public relations and get your blog noticed by the mainstream media: Remember that journalists are either busy or lazy, and make their job easier for them. Develop relationships with journalists, know what they’re looking for and be willing and able to feed it to them. Offer something different — news, new information, or just a strong point of view. Most journalists are looking for topical pieces — if your work isn’t necessarily topical, hook it to a topic, or find a publication that’s doing a theme issue.
To make more money blogging, I pretty much need to keep doing what I’m doing. I just need to do it more, consider some additional income streams, and work harder on building my traffic.
And finally: I really need to get a flip camera.
Oh. And I learned this:
The queer community sure talks about religion a lot.
But that’s a topic for another post.