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Announcing Senior Staff Changes and Community Guidelines Revisions

by: Burnt Orange Report

Mon Nov 21, 2011 at 03:26 PM CST

Burnt Orange Report has some big news to share today, and some important site policy changes we're making over the next two months. Because we are a community blog, we wanted to start this process by coming directly to you, dear readers, and find out what changes you might like to see, and other ideas y'all might have.

Over the last four months, we here at Burnt Orange Report have been working hard to get back into the blogging game. We've grown our staff by six writers, and made some important internal organizational changes to keep bringing our community the platform for discussions about politics in Texas from a progressive, liberal, and/or Democratic perspective.

Today we're excited to announce some additional, official changes to our masthead. Karl-Thomas Musselman will be continuing on as Publisher, while Katherine Haenschen officially takes over the Editor-in-Chief position. Michael Hurta has been promoted to Senior Staff Writer, and Phillip Martin will now be posting as a Contributing Writer. All of this is also updated on our "Who We Are" page.

We're also beginning the process of updating our "Community Guidelines" page, with an emphasis on increased transparency and disclosure. The proposed changes are below. We want to solicit community feedback on these changes, and make sure they're in keeping with the kind of culture we want to foster here on BOR. Please weigh in on them in the comments.

Thanks again for making Burnt Orange Report part of your regular Internet reading, and please let us know in the comments what you think about changes to our community guidelines.  

Burnt Orange Report Staff

Back in August, we introduced a new crop of staff writers who have been providing us with great coverage of issues across Texas. Now, it's time to update the masthead again and make official some changes to our Senior Staff. All staff, their bios and current positions are now listed on the "Who We Are" page.

Publisher: Karl-Thomas Musselman. KT will be continuing in his role as Publisher and Owner of Burnt Orange Report. KT is responsible for all technological issues, advertising on the site, and BOR's finances. KT also handles the BOR email client. As Publisher he makes sure we have a Burnt Orange Report to fill with content. And, of course, he posts as he sees fit.

Editor in Chief: Katherine Haenschen. A staff writer since 2008, Katherine is officially stepping into the chief editorial role for Burnt Orange Report. Kath is responsible for BOR site content, managing the staff and guest writers, and assigning stories. She will also oversee the endorsement process. Essentially, Katherine deals with the day-to-day operations that keep stuff on the blog.

Senior Staff Writer: Michael Hurta. Hurta, a writer at BOR since , has been promoted to Senior Staff Writer. A recent UT graduate and former UDEMs President, Hurta is now working on local campaigns professionally, but still maintains an avid interest in the goings-on on the 40 Acres.

Contributing Writer: Phillip Martin. Phil, who recently joined Progress Texas, will be a Contributing Writer on our site, providing long-form pieces. Also, congrats to Phil and his long-time love Kaiba for tying the knot over the summer!

We would also like to take this opportunity to bid a fond adieu to Matt Glazer, who is now the Executive Director of Progress Texas, and is no longer a staff member at BOR, nor is he involved in day-to-day operations. You will never be just another Matt to us!


Community Guidelines

As BOR continues grows, it's important to keep an eye on our community guidelines, and make sure they accurately reflect what kind of site we want to be. Our guidelines are in the aim of providing necessary transparency and enabling trust and open dialogue within the community.

These guidelines are a living document, and always can be modified to help provide the best blogging experience for everyone. Most importantly, before they become official site policy, we are seeking community feedback on these guidelines.

Proposed New Guidelines:

Disclosure Policy. We're glad to have candidates, officeholders, and staff participating in our blog discourse. However, in the interest of full disclosure, we're planning to add policies that explicitly require individuals involved with campaigns on a paid, staff, or consulting level to disclose their current involvement.

Sockpuppeting. Individuals who register accounts under false names with the intent of deliberately deceiving readers, and then commenting about themselves, their employer, or something about which they have a professional/material interest, is a severe offense.

BOR Social Media. Tweets and Facebook posts/comments that are not simply the automated publication of stories or community emails will be signed by the initials of the writer (i.e. kh, kt, etc.).

Changes to Existing Guidelines:

We don't have any proposed changes to our current guidelines, but we'd encourage you to read them and weigh in if anything seems outdated or no longer functioning well for the community.

We do plan to streamline these pages into one master set of guidelines. Again, the goal is to help new folks navigate BOR and become active members of the community, and to make sure that everyone understands the basic expectations of participation.

Notification of Guidelines:

Posting and Commenting. We will post all of our basic guidelines on the left-hand sidebar on the site, and include an abbreviation on the diary-posting and comment-posting template. We will also link to these guidelines in the account registration email and password reset email.

Questions, comments, concerns?

Readers, what are your thoughts? Please weigh in either by commenting, or emailing Katherine or KT directly. Thanks for participating in this community effort.  

Copyright Burnt Orange Report, all rights reserved.
Do not republish without express written permission.

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guidelines for non staff submitted articles? (0.00 / 0)
What are the guidelines concerning non staff contributions to Burnt Orange?  
Can readers submit articles (not comments,but original articles)?
What is the procedure for that?  
What is your policy when readers wish to submit articles (not comments) that disagree with Burnt Orange editorial positions?


Dean (0.00 / 0)
In the post above, we link to "Community Guidelines." Most of your questions can be answered there. Presently, they are the same as they have been -- posted to the left side of the page, below our logo.

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.

[ Parent ]
Ditto what Phil said. (0.00 / 0)
No changes planned there. Anyone can register an account and post a diary. We delete obvious spam and obvious troll posts. If the senior staff thinks a post is generating good conversation or has important information in it, we will promote it.

Some of our non-profits and PACs have been very good about reaching out, notably the Sierra Club and Back to Basics. We've also had some other good guest posts this fall from Ed Espinoza and Kathleen Thompson, among others.

We definitely encourage readers to post diaries as well as comments. Folks should just be mindful of what's diary-worthy vs. comment-worthy, as is stated in the commenting guidelines.

I'm not a player, I just Tweet a lot: @KathTX

[ Parent ]
Let's have a conversation... (0.00 / 0)
...about blog ethics. :-)

In all seriousness, as BOR gains readership and increases its audience, we want to make sure long-time community members and newer users are able to understand the rules of the road and all play well together. Mostly, for us, that involves transparency in disclosure. In addition to the guidelines above, I'm curious what our readers think about other issues, including...

* Should former staff have to disclose that they USED to work for someone they are commenting / blogging about? (This applies to both BOR staff and our community.)

* Should public supporters (who are otherwise not affiliated with campaigns) disclose they are listed as supporters?

* Do you feel a disclosure on a community member / user's page is sufficient, or should it be in the comment / diary itself?

What level of transparency do y'all want on Burnt Orange Report?  

I'm not a player, I just Tweet a lot: @KathTX

One person's opinion (0.00 / 0)
Congratulations, Katherine, Michael and Phillip!  I'll try not to get on your cases too much.


It's a little silly to require public supporters to disclose that they're public supporters. If you're writing to say nice things about candidate X (or nasty things about X's opponent), doesn't that already label you as a supporter?

Former staff is another story. If you've got some sort of professional relationship with a candidate, whether as former staff, former business partner, or even former boss, then that information should be out there.

If something requires disclosure, then it should be in the diary (for an author), or in the first comment that the user makes (for a commenter). Most of us are too lazy to look these things up on the user's page, and its relevance depends on the subject being talked about.  An "I'm paid by the so-and-so for dogcatcher campaign" disclaimer belongs on my post about so-and-so (or about catching dogs), but doesn't need to be in an analysis of the GOP primaries.  

[ Parent ]
I am a fan of the discloser policy. (0.00 / 0)
I think that BOR is in the right to try to raise the level of discourse being offered in the comment section. The random account being created for the soul purpose of attacking is pretty lame. I think staff and consultants should have to disclose who they are. "individuals involved with campaigns on a paid, staff, or consulting level to disclose their current involvement" is enough, IMO.

I have always posted under my name here. I think if you are a local politico and you are active here, or sometime active here, you might as well just post as who you are even if you are not getting paid, BUT I don't think that should be a rule enforced by the site.

On the staffing, I am glad to see kath25 moving on up in the world and happy that Phillip, Hurta and K.T. are not going anywhere. And in general I have liked the news staff writers too!


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Burnt Orange Reporters
Editor and Publisher:
Katherine Haenschen

Senior Staff Writers:
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Staff Writers:
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