Pioneering liberal blog RIFuture ready to relaunch – and to fightJanuary 9th, 2012 at 2:06 pm by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
It’s back to the future for Rhode Island’s Future.
The lefty website that was an influential voice of opposition to the Carcieri administration will return to its roots on Wednesday by debuting with a new look and a commitment from 15 contributing writers to reenergize the blog, which fell all but silent last year.
“There is this ephemeral image of Rhode Island being this bastion of liberal policy,” Brian Hull, who bought Rhode Island’s Future in August 2009, told WPRI.com. “Sure, everyone’s a Democrat, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s a liberal. Now RIFuture is coming back to actually have that strong liberal voice that’s been missing.”
With Hull busy as a student at Harvard’s Kennedy School, Rhode Island’s Future became a ghost town in 2011, rarely updated except for occasional scattered posts, some anonymous, and event announcements. It was a far cry from the consistent commentary that marked the site in its heyday under founder Matt Jerzyk or that still happens at Anchor Rising.
“I’m just thinking, it’s a new year – let’s get the RIFuture blog up and running again,” he said. “Quite frankly, the last year has been a joke.” The revitalized site’s debut is slated to coincide with Wednesday’s annual blogger meet-up. Hull will be its senior editor, with a list of contributors that includes David Segal, Kate Brock, Aaron Regunberg, Libby Kimzey, Russ Conway and John Speck.
Hull said frustration with state leaders’ decisions in 2011, as well as the fact the Netroots Nation blogger convention will be in Providence this year, pushed them to revive the site. He expressed surprise that the left-leaning leadership elected the prior November led to a year of policy defeats for the left, from gay marriage and voter ID to the budget and the pension overhaul.
“Despite all the gains that we made electorally by electing specific liberal or progressive candidates, we are still actively engaging in conservative policies here, because there is no real strong progressive messaging and progressive analysis,” Hull said.
The pension debate in particular was marked by a lack of intellectual engagement on the liberal side of Rhode Island’s political spectrum. Hull wants the new RIFuture to expand the scope of the debate leftward – and help organize primary challenges to conservative Democrats later this year.
“That’s been missing for the past year,” he said. “Everyone on the left, all of us activists have been sitting around scratching our heads, saying, ‘What the hell is going on in this state?’” Hull and Kimzey, who is running for state rep, hope to create an interactive progressive scorecard that will tally up and rank lawmakers’ key votes.
RIFuture was created by Jerzyk, now a top aide to Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, in January 2005. He sold the site in December 2008 to Pat Crowley of NEARI, and Crowley sold it to Hull less than a year later. The last writer to make his mark there was Dan McGowan, now GoLocalProv’s top reporter, in 2010.
Hull, who tried to sell RIFuture himself, isn’t the first to struggle with balancing blogging and other responsibilities. ”I have to reorder my priorities,” Anchor Rising’s Justin Katz wrote in August. “We’ll still be here, making our opinions known, but I’ll be putting aside the sense of obligation to have a steady stream of new posts.”
But Hull said he and the other contributors, who met Friday night to agree on the plan, are excited about what lies in store for the new RIFuture. “It’s just going to be awesome,” he said.