Friday, February 9, 2007

Press Blackout

About a year ago, when the current moderators took over RYS, we made a decision not to entertain press inquiries. There was, as most of you know, a tremendous flurry of national media attention for this site during its nascent period. The original moderator was quoted widely - and we thought brilliantly - in outlets all over: NY Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, NY Post, the Chronicle, Village Voice, countless campus newspapers, and newspapers in Australia, England, and elsewhere.

The original moderator did his best to explain the genesis of RYS, and a good deal of his time and energy was spent doing phone interviews on a nearly daily basis.

But when we took over, we didn't feel as though we had any right or obligation to explain why RYS existed or what it was for. The readers drove the content, and we felt as if we were truly just moderators - nobody here was interested in explaining why we came together to talk about the topics that keep RYS humming.

The press inquiries tend to ebb and flow. For a while we only got a few a week, but recently there's been an upturn, and the current methodology has been for writers and editors to request that we turn over to them some email addresses from recent or frequent posters to the site, so they can be asked about RYS and its mission.

We have not done such a thing, except for a couple of occasions when frequent correspondents have actually asked us to put them in touch with some of the folks in question. To reveal a site secret, we do not keep a list of the posts that come to us. As the moderators and our assistant all operate out of a single email account, we keep no records of past emails to us. We answer a lot of mail, as I'm sure you'd imagine, but we don't even keep a database of the folks we hear from most. (We did collect addresses last June in order to update folks for the Fall return of the site, but even that list is gone.)

Of course those of you who took part in the "Excuses" article (a shared venture with the Chronicle) know that the material made its way to them, but that was something we were up front about from the beginning.

But we wanted to let you know that we're not passing along any information about those of you who write to us, as we feel that would be an inappropriate invasion of the trust we feel we have with our readers.