America did not have a blog when I was hired, and there was some question as to whether we should dip our toes in those waters. Commonweal had recently launched a blog with great success, yet we did not enjoy the same editorial independence.
The Jesuits who publish America were already a target in the mostly conservative Catholic blogosphere; there was little question that an America blog would quickly become a subject of those other bloggers’ scrutiny. The editorial staff always took great care in crafting its positions, yet blogs by their nature do not always allow for such moderation.
We began with a compromise: a blog on Scripture and preaching, which built on our popular “Word” column on the Sunday readings. We recruited a roster of biblical scholars and encouraged them to connect their exegesis to contemporary events. The blog slowly built an audience, but we still felt we needed a forum to weigh in on breaking news.
Eventually we launched “In All Things,” a group blog that includes among its contributors the writers Sidney Callahan and Michael Sean Winters. The blog has proved more controversial than our Scripture blog, and has raised questions for some about where the positions of the editors end and those of our bloggers begin. In an environment often marked by vitriol, we have tried to encourage charity, not always to great success.
Yet for better or worse, blogs are often the place where ideas are thrashed out in today’s twenty-four-hour news cycle, and we want to be part of the conversation.