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African-American bloggers seek larger presence at Democratic convention…

June 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Money/Business, News, Politics

( AUSTIN, TX – Minority blogs that felt spurned by the Democratic National Committee got some vindication recently when they were added to the list of blogs invited by party officials to cover their convention in August – but some still say the white blogs got preferential treatment and will get better access.

Members of the “AfroSpear” web network, a circle of African-American run blogs, cried foul last month when 55 blogs were credentialed to cover the convention in Denver as part of the “State Blogger Corps” and only a handful of them could be identified as minority blogs or having minority writers.

A few weeks later, the Democratic National Committee released their “General Blogger Pool” list, with an additional 69 blogs on them, many of which are minority blogs – including the Dallas South blog, published by Shawn Williams, who had written a letter to U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson expressing his concern about the lack of African-Americans among the bloggers at the convention.

Other blogs included in the updated list, which party officials had said early on would emphasize minorities, are Pam’s House Blend, Jack and Jill, Culture Kitchen and African American Political Pundit.

Mr. Williams said he feels “much better now that we have seen the entire list” and that while “there is still a small group of bloggers who are concerned about the state blogger pool. … They don’t speak for everybody.”

Most of the black bloggers I have talked to are happy for those who are credentialed,” said Mr. Williams, who has begun raising money for the August convention.

But some other African-American bloggers are still livid over the fact that, with 124 blogs credentialed at the convention, less than 10 percent of them are black – while more than 20 percent of the delegates are black.

Additionally, the nearly all-white State Blogger Corps will have full-time seats on the convention floor, while the General Blogger Corps – which also includes blogs that focus on gay and lesbian issues as well as women’s issues, among other groups – will be allowed floor access for only limited periods of time, similar to access granted to the mainstream media.

It’s particularly troubling, some of the bloggers say, because the party is about to nominate Sen. Barack Obama, the nation’s first-ever African American presidential nominee – and the steps the DNC took to rectify the situation with the updated list have done little to address those concerns.

Fundamentally, the situation has changed very little,” said blogger Francis L. Holland, Afrosphere Action Coalition. “We think floor blog outreach to blacks is essential to Democratic victories in the fall, particularly in states with substantial black populations.”

Convention spokesman Damon Jones said it wasn’t surprising that some people were disappointed at not being credentialed, as “it is a hot ticket” and “everyone wants to be at the convention. It’s historic.”

As a result, the convention credentialed four times as many bloggers this time as they did four years ago, he said.

The decision to “embed” one blogger from each state with a full-time seat on the floor was to help encourage local and state coverage, Mr. Jones said. The General Blog Pool, just like the regular media, will have access to the floor with temporary passes, as well as all the activities, availabilities, and events going on off-site.

I think some of the differences between the state blogger pool and general blogger pools have frankly been overblown,” he said. “Anyone who needs to get access to the delegates and elected officials will be able to do so.”


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