Tales from the Net

a work in progress

Thursday, January 31, 2008

“Black Blogosphere Proves Potent Force in Story of Race in the New South”

Reggie Royston interviews the Chicago Tribune’s Howard Witt, a civil rights correspondent and Southwest bureau chief based in Houston, for the Maynard Institute. A brief excerpt:

[In the spring of 2006, Witt wrote about 14-year-old Shaquanda Cotton, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for shoving a school hall monitor in Paris, Texas. That story led to national criticism of the Texas juvenile prison system.]

That story was published in March of last year, and very quickly a day or two after that I started getting a lot of e-mails from people who were encountering that story across the Internet and I was just curious where they were finding that story. I did a little Google searching and discovered that the story had been picked up on a number of these African-American blogs. They were, generally speaking, quite thoughtful and had interesting things to say. It wasn’t at all what I had assumed to be of blogs, which is generally a bunch of narcissistic stuff.

I also discovered that this was a very potent way for my stories to get distributed to audiences who would otherwise never see them. People who would never know about the Chicago Tribune or look at the newspaper were suddenly having access to the story via blogs or e-mails from people who saw it somewhere else.

Potent stuff indeed. Lots of discussion of the coverage of Jena; well worth reading.

Wikipedia’s Afrosphere page, Electronic Village’s Top ten black blogs (January 2008) are good places to find out more, as is There are 116 Black Blogs in the Afrospear/Afrosphere, a link list on Jack and Jill Politics — the same site that recently started up an experiment in community information gathering.

posted by Jon at 11:36 am  

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