A lot of buzz today about news, first reported in the New York Times, that progressive media watchdog Media Matters is launching a “communications war room for gay equality” called Equality Matters, to be headed be Richard Socarides.  Their blog will be run by The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld, who is leaving the magazine and website.

There’s been a lot of enthusiasm for the project from all the places you’d expect. Pam Spaulding, who is on the project’s advisory board, said:

IMHO (and I’m just speaking for myself here, not for Equality Matters), the LGBT movement has lacked an effective, professional media war room for some time now. The closest model for the current need has been the unorganized-but-influential work to date of the blogs. And as we’ve seen, that has had distinct limitations, most notably the lack of clarity of what bloggers are individually or collectively to the movement or the media.

Equality Matters is the next phase of development and won’t have that issue. With an established communications presence editorially headed up by a respected Beltway journalist (who has represented the community as part of the WH press corps), there is gravitas out of the gate. However, it will be interesting to see how this effort takes on issues as we move into a more politically defensive position with the changeover on the Hill.

The group is seen as a challenge to GLAAD, with Michelangelo Signorile tweeting “I have said in the past that @GLAAD needs to become an LGBT version of Media Matters. Now MM is creating that itself. You blew it @GLAAD.”

It will be interesting to see what the new project can achieve.  Partisan media watchdog groups tend to have a lot of echo-chamber influence, but less influence outside their sphere. For all of their money, it’s harder to see what the return on that investment looks like.

The inclusion of Eleveld and Socarides seems encouraging.  Instead of shouting “bigot” and “hater” the loudest, they both have reputations for being reasoned thinkers and writers which will be necessary traits if EM hopes to have influence beyond the progressive chattering class.

There are a lot of players in the LGBT equality space and even in the media watchdog game. EM’s blog and efforts will certainly be watched closely–and critically–to see what role they play in the conversation.