The Blogger, The Black, The Bitch and Them

Last night Buffalo Spree presented a panel discussion at The Burchfield Penney Art Center. The topic was Journalism on the brink: When the daily paper becomes the daily blog, who wins and who loses?

The panel included myself and the following:

• Brian Connolly, web editor for the Buffalo News

• Jim Heaney, blogger and columnist for the Buffalo News

• Geoff Kelly, editor and blogger for Artvoice

• Newell Nussbaumer, co-founder of Buffalo Rising Online and a blog veteran

• Ben Siegel, editor for Block Club

• Marc Odien and Chris Smith, co-founders of WNYMedia.net

• Alan Bedenko, a veteran blogger (Buffalo Pundit)

I was the only woman and the only person of color on the panel. Elena Cala Buscarino, editor for Buffalo Rising Online was scheduled but could not attend.

You can watch the discussion compliments of WNYMedia. net here.

I know you can’t win or lose if you don’t play in the game. When I think about the online news presence and blogosphere in Western New York, I can look at last night’s panel and tell you women, Blacks, Latinos, Asians and nonnatives are second string.

We are not engaging in the activity. Minorities and women are not reading about things that are of interest to us because we are not writing about the things that are of interest to us.

Minority and women bloggers are underrepresented in Buffalo’s online news community. When the daily news becomes the daily blog and the submissions are not generated by diverse contributors, sometimes informational needs, topics, realities and issues unique to women, disadvantaged urbanites or nonnative residents get overlooked or misrepresented.

Neither of Buffalo’s two African-American weeklies, The Challenger nor The Buffalo Criterion have updated online editions. None of the local online news sources offer the capability to translate content to a reader’s native language. I am guilty of this too. I can’t seem to get the translation widget to work but I will not be defeated.

None of the online news sources include a blogroll of links which may be of special interest to minorities or nonnatives except for this one.

Women and minorities account for over 50% of the  city’s population yet over 90% of the local online news and editorial content is originated by the White guys sitting around me last night. Really? Yep, really.

I don’t want to beat them. I don’t blame them. I don’t need to. I don’t want to. I legitimize when I realize and recognize.

So sistahs, brothers, vriende, marafiki, ban bé and amigos, let’s get engaged.

One cannot empower or be empowered without being engaged. Period.

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3 Comments

  1. As the owner of BuffaloChristian.com, I’ve noticed a lot of church people– white, black, whatever– don’t seem to be too computer literate/web savvy. Very few churches locally have functional, up-to-date, easy to find/easy to read websites. The response I often get includes variations on “We don’t understand/use email/the web.” You were the only person of color on that panel, Sharon. Go to a Christian concert– it’s usually all white guys on the stage– where are the women and minorities there? It’s not just in online media that women and minorities are not represented. I’m irked about this just like you are. What you and I can do is encourage women and minorities to play guitars and blog and work their way up the ladders of society so they are in positions of power, prestige and influence. Society has come a long way since the 1960s, but still has a ways to go.

  2. Sharon, it was a pleasure meeting you last night and I’d like to thank you for your insight and strong opinion.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the diversity issue in the WNY online community for quite some time and we definitely want to be part of the solution. Problem is, we’d love to add more diverse voices, but where can we find them?

    Can we help engage people offline to see the value in online communities and building vigorous social networks for activism online? Activism is our guiding principle and we want a thriving community that features all voices and points of view, so that we can all learn from one another and engage various community strengths.

    So, let’s work together to expand the community and keep this conversation going.

  3. Thanks for being there. I enjoyed your perspective and found this forum, both good things. Here’s to a widening audience for you (and for this white guy who wants everybody to the table)


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