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A Take on White House Black Bloggers Controversy You Won’t See in the New York Times

I was one of the 22 Bloggers who attended the White House Summit with African American bloggers this past Monday. I was literally plucked off of the C-list when the founder and CEO of Black Web Media, Angela Benton, couldn’t attend the summit.  One of her 2 picks to go also couldn’t attend the event which took place on Columbus Day, a day when many schoolchildren were home from school.  Lucky for me, my husband works for the Federal government and was able to stay with our children while I sauntered down to the Old Executive Building to hobnob with some of the top Black media journalists and bloggers.

Because I am a news junkie who follows the president’s daily schedule, going into the summit, I had a pretty good inclination that the President might have dropped in our meeting.  He did.  In addition to being an attorney, I also have a journalism degree and history in writing for several local and national publications, so I knew well enough what “off the record” meant.   That is why I was concerned a bit when I peered directly across the conference table and noticed Natasha Eubanks, founder of the Young Black & Fabulous celebrity gossip blog, videotaping  the President’s address to the room with her iPhone.  I assumed she was taping the address to share with her family and friends perhaps, after all that is a proud and amazing moment that anyone would want to capture for prosperity. I didn’t think she would actually publish it. [edited to add: To be honest, I am sure Natasha didn’t mean any harm and perhaps did not anticipate or realize the fall out that could occur and perhaps was unclear about or did not hear the staff explain the rules of engagement at the top of the meeting.]

My initial reaction to the fall-out from Eubank’s release of the video was shame about the breach of protocol.  I was also concerned whether her actions and the media coverage of Leutisha Stills of Jack & Jill Politics blog blunt and honest banter saying that Black Bloggers won’t be “pimped” would’ve damaged relations for the future of Black Media at the White House.  I even ranted about it on my Blog Talk Radio show, Right of Black last night.

This morning, a friend of mine pointed out that I really needed to put aside the  feelings of embarrassment and check out the comments to the NY Times Mediacoder blog post which “broke” the story after it was already broken in the Black Media/Blogsphere.

I was taken aback by all of the ignorance and uninformed opinion on there and had to respond. I did. First, I set off a round of Tweets on my @JenebaSpeaks account.  Then, I decided to sum up those tweets and let them have it on the New York Times site as well.

That was at 1pm.

It still isn’t up. Who knows if it will actually ever appear on the New York Times site in the comments section?

In any event, I thought I’d post it here, with minor additions that could not be submitted due to space limitations:

————————————————————————————————————————-

To those who are saying it would be racist to have a WHITE bloggers summit, I invite you to check out this photo of the liberal bloggers that met with Bill Clinton while he was in office.

While that image marinates in your psyche for a bit….consider this:

Like it or not, America is divided in the way it gets its news.

It is about (dis)trust and credibility. For a very long time, the mainstream media has  had little to no credibility among communities of color.  Many in these communities feel the media cannot be  trusted to accurately and fairly tell the stories of all of America.  We have been talking about this for decades.  It was a major issue when I was in  journalism school in the early 1990s and has been a  topic at many National Association of Black Journalist  conventions.

Tell me do you recall seeing the mainstream media present any humanizing background story of the personal lives of the 17 black men who were victims of the Michigan Serial killer?

TheGrio.com asked the question, however.

How about the coverage of the 11 Black women whose bodies were found in Anthony Sowell, the Cleveland Strangler, home over a decade after those murders occurred?

Jezebel.com knew why.

None of their families was paraded out on the Today Show  talking about the closure they had received knowing that their family member’s murder were finally settled.  Why not? Were their lives and stories not worthy of sharing? Were they not worthy of the sympathy?

The Jenna 6 story was being pushed among Black media for nearly 6 months before the mainstream media picked it up.

Why has virtually no mainstream media outlet reported on the groundbreaking fact that there are nearly 40 Black republicans running for congressional office. That is a story but where is the mainstream media on this?

TheRoot.com got it covered though.

Much of the media got it all wrong as to why DC’s Mayor Fenty lost his bid for reelection. Why were they unwilling to poll real DC residents and see why they came out in droves to vote him out?

Jack and Jill Politics had the real story and took off where The Washington Post left off

The No Wedding No Womb initiative and discourse about Black out-of-wedlock births has been a hot bed issue among Blacks on Twitter and the Blogsphere  for weeks, yet virtually no national outlet has picked up the story.

But Politic365.com did.

Have you noticed that the celeb sites like PerezHilton, Entertainment Tonight and E! only cover WHITE celebrities, thus gossip sites like Concrete Loop, YBF and Media Take Out fill that void?

Why must Blacks have to sit around patiently waiting for mainstream media to find their stories, celebrities and interests worthy to be covered? How can anyone honestly question the value, need and purpose of Black media and its credibility, role and value to Black audiences?

The above mentioned media outlets and blogs have been there covering these issues and therefore have the credibility and that is why all of them (sans Jezebel.com), and others,  were invited to the summit.

Does that make Blacks dumb because they are not watching Meet the Press, as commenters to the Drudge report’s story  has suggested?

No.

Have you all even considered that reporters and pundits on Meet the Press and others in the mainstream media  might be failing at  digging deeper on issues as they impact diverse communities?

All of the critics need to get off their high horses, quit with all the condescending finger pointing and learn about the REAL story here!

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6 comments

  • […] This is a portion of an article written by NWNW participant, Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt, founder of The Ghatt Law Group LLC, the nations’ first communications law firm owned by women and minorities. See full article here. […]

  • The NYT *did* report on the incident, even identifying the blog where the video was posted. The Times also reported on the disagreement among Af-Am bloggers over the protocol breach. Is your “take” on the basics of the aforementioned events different than what the NYT reported? How so? Or, is your issue with the degree to which the NYT covered the ‘controversy’?

    I find a number of Af-Am journalists have become preoccupied with the degree of coverage afforded select issues over the actual coverage. In some cases, they’re so possessed with proving racial bias at News Outlet ‘A’, they either: a) don’t bother to check other news outlets or, b) become distracted by the means to be blinded to the ends. While I understand and agree the commercial news media collectively edits, omits, distorts, etc., stories to the frequent dismay of someone, I believe it’s a mistake to look upon contemporary news coverage as a monolith. For example, the Jena 6 was reported on regularly a year before the Afrosphere & ‘Black’ media picked up the story by Democracy Now, a ‘White’-owned, national news program. AAMOF, Howard Witt (writing for the very mainstream Chicago Tribune) and the BBC covered the Jena 6 story extensively before it got legs with the Black chattering class.

  • Um…I think you missed the point. If you read the first part of this post, you’d note that I referenced the fact that the New York Times did not publish MY COMMENT to its story about the summit.

    So therefore, all of your subsequent questions are moot.

    I think your next statement about Af-Am journalists is outrageous because if you really do follow Af-Am reporters, those who work at mainstream publications and those that do not, you would note that most are NOT preoccupied with the type of coverage their issues get. Most Af-Am reporters report about a variety of issues. Are you just talking about the Af-Am who covered those stories I linked in this post? That is an awfully inaccurate and unfair statement.

    I do not understand with your accusation about Af-Am being “possessed” – is that the word you want to use? Are you seriously saying that there is no bias in reporting?

    Your reference to Jenna 6 does not make sense to me at all. I really do not understand the rest of your comment, to be honest. Not sure the point.

  • I understood you were referencing your interpretation of events from the blog’s title, Jeneba. My question was what is it about your take that’s different from those details reported in the Times? No publication is obligated to publish individual responses to its coverage. Whether or not an individual outlet like the Times publishes your responses, we have multiple options at our disposal for voicing our opinions — as you do with here on this blog.

    I don’t follow Af-Am journalists as much as several of my best friends and former classmates are full-time professionals in the industry, and we talk shop often. They work at so-called ‘mainstream’ and alternative outlets alike in all the various media. I also have some experience as a part-time journalist included in my career working in media, and therefore have common ground to discuss issues in the news industry.

    Almost to a person, one common theme cited by Af-Am journalists is American news media’s underserving of Af-Am audiences. While that’s a very legitimate observation, they’ll often cite as evidence an Af-Am wasn’t the journalist of record, regardless of whether the story itself was covered, accurate, or of value to Af-Am audiences. Such arguments beg the question whether it’s the journalists themselves are the story, rather than the actual story. Your “take” on the White House Black media summit appears similarly self-serving.

    By ‘possessed’, I meant as if obsessed; having a lack of self-control. My stating many Af-Am journalists get sidetracked by proving bias is not to suggest that bias doesn’t exist. The point is their emphasis on proving bias exists often undermines their ability to do their jobs as journalists.

    My point about coverage of the Jena 6 controversy by ‘mainstream’ media is the accusations of its (relative) negligence by you and other Af-Am journalists are demonstrably without grounds. I cited it as example of how Af-Ams frequently mischaracterize the media as a monolithic institution.

  • This post is “self-serving” how? How is pointing out the obvious benefiting me, in any respect?

    The fact that Black journalists point out differences in coverage equals them being obsessed in your eyes?

    Again, I disagree. You can not look at a few posts made by a few Black journalists and/or bloggers and then come up with totally off base generalizations like that. It’s in the category of statements: All blacks dance well, Blacks are criminals etc. You are overstating the case and exaggerating.

    You would rather black journalists bury their heads in the sand and not point out inequitable coverage they see at all, I see.

    Further, I am not “possessed” or “obsessed” with coverage. Other than this post, when was the last time you read anything by ME talking about media coverage? You cannot take one post and then say that sums up the total of my writing ever. Ridiculous!

    And further, even if a journalist points out out unbalanced coverage (which is a reality no matter if you want to admit it or not) every now and then, that does not equate to an “obsession” at all.

    You must be one of those people who believe America is color blind as well.

  • […] 2007 and similarly in his pregnancy, Bill Clinton met with some liberal bloggers and noticeably zero bloggers of color attended.  Yet, were there the same call of racism as when black bloggers visiting this […]

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