About the Author: Luke Forgerson recently joined the DipNote Bloggers team as Managing Editor.
Press freedom has been on my mind lately, and not just because it was the theme of a recent Dipnote "Question of the Week." Two weeks ago, I joined the Dipnote team as the new managing editor. While we are clearly not the press, we face some of the same issues. Since starting, I have been asked several times whether or not Dipnote posts all of our readers’ submitted comments. Actually, it is probably the question I have been asked most frequently about my new job. This may be due in part because so many of my friends are journalists.
I found the answer when our editor-in-chief informed me that almost 95% of the comments submitted to Dipnote are indeed posted online. Submissions that include profanity, personal attacks or hateful statements are the only ones that are not. This told me two things. First, Dipnote has an impressive readership, committed to informed and respectful discussion. Second, Dipnote is fulfilling its purpose. It is giving individuals an opportunity to voice their opinions and be active participants in a community that is focused on foreign affairs.
My previous assignment was in the State Department’s Office of Public Liaison, where my colleagues and I responded to inquires from the public and arranged opportunities for diverse groups to engage Department officials. On occasion, we held foreign policy forums at the domestic community level, which allowed for Department officials to explain U.S. foreign policy and hear what the American public was thinking. I had the opportunity to attend a few of these forums. Rochester, Minneapolis and San Francisco were not the cities I thought I’d be traveling to on behalf of the Department, but I’m glad I did. I saw that all across this country there are people interested in U.S. foreign policy, and I felt as if we were contributing to the democratic process when Department officials returned to Washington with the public’s feedback.
Dipnote really serves the same purpose. In some respects, it’s an online version of the town hall meeting – a place where different opinions are all shared openly under the same roof. As I’ve been reading your comments and opinions, I feel as if I am joining you in mid-conversation. Where the conversation goes from here will largely be determined by you – Dipnote’s readers and its many dedicated Department contributors.
I think that is part of why blogs are resonating. They can make anyone’s voice count anywhere. Take for example Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez, who was recently named among Time’s 100 most influential people in the world. This would have been unimaginable even a few years ago.
I’m pleased to be joining the conversation and look forward to your comments and suggestions.