AOL killed QueerSighted, their queer group blog. Says former contributor Richard Rothstein:
And so QueerSighted was born, a diverse community of queer writers that would evolve and grow and within six short months draw more than 3.5 million page views per month. QueerSighted would pull in serious advertising revenue, and just before it's demise--yes demise--QueerSighted would find itself within weeks of being able to lay claim to the honor of largest non-porn gay website in the world. In fact, weeks before AOL killed QueerSighted, the blog was already in a photo finish race with Gay.com and Logo On Line for the number one spot.[...]
But at the end of the day, this hugely and almost instantly successful venture that had quickly established its brand-building and financial worth to the corporation was abruptly canceled. No warning and no reason other than we "were just one of the causalities of a corporate cost-cutting process."
You may remember how AOL sucks for letting their "political" bloggers post violent homophobia. Evidently a pro-gay blog was too much for them.
More after the jump.
Honestly, while all of the QueerSighted contributors I had the pleasure of interacting with were lovely and intelligent people, I never really got into that site. Corporate blogs just aren't my thing - blogging is first and foremost a way of bucking the system, a way to speak out to anyone with internet access without being filtered by anyone's sensibilities who aren't willing to directly engage you. It connects, deconstructs borders within and between texts, and decenters those loci of power that try to control all communications. Queersighted was, first and foremost, a piece of AOL/Time-Warner, meaning that it would always have to respond to interests outside of those of contributors and loyal readers.
We've run into issues here at the Project with a few people who help out who aren't quite up on just what blogging is. It's not journalism, and Bil and I exercise almost no editorial control over the contributors. We very rarely pull comments from this site, much less than the blogosphere does in general.
But that messiness is anathema to corporations that are used to controlling their message as part of day-to-day operations necessary for stock-holder profit and corporate survival. To have a bunch of bloggers, much less unknown commenters who can be anyone in the world, saying whatever they want on corporate property is scary to people who think that they might be and might actually be liable for what some random joe or jane thinks about one of their advertisers.
That said, we don't really know why AOL decided to cut the blog. Queersighted was immensely popular and growing everyday. Richard continues:
Was there some other reason? And was the deletion of QueerSighted bundled into a general "layoff" to hide some ugly truth? Were our politics too far to the left of certain senior officers at AOL? Was AOL receiving threats from it's large Evangelical and Right wing readership that used to entertain itself by flaming our site? I guess we'll never know and the worst thing we can say about AOL is that they lied about their commitment to the GLBT community and Kenny Hill and just swept us and him away as part of some mindless, heartless corporate housecleaning exercise.
We'll probably never know the real reason, but AOL did end their elections blog, The Stump, back in October. And it was definitely conservatively-biased. But there really aren't enough across-the-board cuts to really say that this is part of a massive downsizing, and Queersighted's growth and popularity make you wonder why they'd pull it. If anyone should be pulled from an AOL blog, it's the homophobic, jingoist, professionally irresponsible Dinesh D'Souza, but that's another post for another time.
In the end, I doubt any corporation really wants a bunch of outspoken queers being part of their public face. AOL did put the whole thing together, but they're caving to someone now, and since there are so many someones who'd have a problem with their project, it's impossible to point the finger. Pam speculates on the specifics of QueerSighted's politics and AOL's corporate interests:
The brilliance that corporate drones may admire on a personal blog may not translate well as a corporate voice. Did that happen at Queersighted when the political commentary got hot in regards to AOL exec Mary Cheney or criticism of conservative bloggers on AOL's roster? Who knows. What I can easily imagine happening, as a corporate butt-covering maneuver, is that it is easier on the PR front to shut down the whole site and say it's part of downsizing rather than deal with any potential criticism as a result of canning or censoring individual posts, bloggers or editorial decisions. I doubt we'll ever find out what happened.
It definitely meant something that AOL would put this together, but, then again, they shouldn't have made promises they can't keep.