Magazine article Newsweek

Blogging beyond the Men's Club; since Anyone Can Write a Weblog, Why Is the Blogosphere Dominated by White Males?

Magazine article Newsweek

Blogging beyond the Men's Club; since Anyone Can Write a Weblog, Why Is the Blogosphere Dominated by White Males?

Article excerpt

Byline: Steven Levy

At a recent Harvard conference on bloggers and the media, the most pungent statement came from cyberspace. Rebecca MacKinnon, writing about the conference as it happened, got a response on the "comments" space of her blog from someone concerned that if the voices of bloggers overwhelm those of traditional media, "we will throw out some of the best... journalism of the 21st century." The comment was from Keith Jenkins, an African-American blogger who is also an editor at The Washington Post Magazine [a sister publication of NEWSWEEK]. "It has taken 'mainstream media' a very long time to get to [the] point of inclusion," Jenkins wrote. "My fear is that the overwhelmingly white and male American blogosphere... will return us to a day where the dialogue about issues was a predominantly white-only one."

After the comment was posted, a couple of the women at the conference--bloggers MacKinnon and Halley Suitt--looked around and saw that there weren't many other women in attendance. Nor were the faces yapping about the failings of Big Media representative of the human quiltwork one would see in the streets of Cambridge or New York City, let alone overseas. They were, however, representative of the top 100 blogs according to the Web site Technorati--a list dominated by bigmouths of the white-male variety.

Does the blogosphere have a diversity problem?

Viewed one way, the issue seems a bit absurd. These self-generated personal Web sites are supposed to be the ultimate grass-roots phenomenon. The perks of alpha bloggers--voluminous traffic, links from other bigfeet, conference invitations, White House press passes--are, in theory, bequeathed by a market-driven merit system. The idea is that the smartest, the wittiest and the most industrious in finding good stuff will simply rise to the top, by virtue of a self-organizing selection process. …

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