Urban haps of a grrrl on a mission to be a better writer, a new music master-blaster and a wonderfully brilliant razor-packing, MAC LipGlass wearing feminista...

Friday, February 02, 2007


The night before last I decided to take a break from my usual routine and instead of heading to the BX I headed downtown to get my geek on at two writer-centric events. The first event was put on by The New York Times and was held at their headquarters on 43rd street. The invitation read:
This panel discussion with three Times journalists (Sewell Chan, Andrea Elliott and David Gonzalez, each featured in The Times's new brand advertising campaign) discussing their beats and how racial and ethnic trends impact the stories they cover.

My Beat: The Impact of Diversity on a Story was the really hip name they christened this panel that featured some really not so hip writers (excluding David Gonzalez who was charismatic, really open and had more personality in his big toe than the other two writers combined). Now don’t get me wrong it wasn’t a big yawn, but when one hears the word "beat" ya can’t help but think music, culture or enlivened, witty and impassioned discussions and this it, well, wasn't. I knew going into this it was going to be a night filled with irony and weird, errr… staged juxtapositioning if that makes any sense just because the event was sponsored by their Human Resources Dept. (ie. The NY Times is looking for writers of color or at least they want us to believe that they are at least committed to da rainbow coalition!)

As I got off the elevator and walked down this long winding hallway I had to laugh. This hall featured about 50 framed photographs of, I believe, writers who have worked at The Times and as I walked to this diversity event I realized this long a$s hall had only two photos of Black women. I recognized Isabel Wilkerson in one shot but didn’t know who the other woman was. It’s so remarkable to me that every time I walk the hallowed halls of so many (old) institutions (like my college’s alumni club for example), I have to deal with seeing old white men or as MeShell NdegeOcello once told me “we are confronted with the ancestral history of The Man every day damn near every minute here in America.”

Anyway I digress. The panel was pretty interesting because the work of the writers featured especially David and Andrea was really insightful and unique. Hearing how they get people to open up about their very personal lives and how authenticity played apart in their goals as journalist was very inspiring for me. The other thing that I found totally inspiring was their dope spread—open bar, shrimp, sushi, Kobe beef satay, curry chicken tartes. Never mind that my questions about gender and about passion & objectivity were also a bit hit, so much so that I was asked by two Times execs to send them my resume and writing samples.

My next stop: Rockefeller Plaza to NBC Studios for their first ever NYC Blogger Summit. I got there a lil late and missed the reception, but heads were still complaining about there not being any liquor, especially beer. This issue was actually brought up at least three or four times throughout the night. I’m gathering I’m not the only blogger who likes to get her drink on. I think the final count for attendees was 129 and I was probably1 of only 3 Black folks there. But on the upside the Conan O’Brien studio where the Summit was held had a good look on blog-grrrls in the mix. The ladies were definitely in the house repping a number of sites ranging from big dot coms like Mediabistro and Gothamist to All Cupcakes and of course theHotness Grrrl.

This Summit was groundbreaking in that a mainstream (not to mention VERY major) news source was basically fessing up that they need us. WNBC, at least, wants to partner with us on delivering news. Initially most bloggers were doubtful of this “partnership” and really had to think about the value of what we would get in return—basically credit, hyperlinks and TV exposure. No loot. I think most folks were like me and more interested in hearing the stories of various bloggers and how they developed their audience and their particular blogging styles. The folks at NBC didn’t really have a lot to say. The highlight for me was meeting Anil Dash the cat that created TypePad, Movable Type and other blogging software and services. We spoke for a good minute about hiphop and the Web, successful (i.e. revenue generating) blogs & sites related to urban culture, Questlove’s blog and OkayPlayer. We had a great convo and are supposed to hangout real soon. A good night overall that ended with me on the 11pm news coverage of the Blogger Summit. Thanks Lynne for noticing my two seconds of fame. Real recognizing real!

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Blogger anil said...

It was great to meet you there! And yeah, it was surprisingly homogenous for a NYC crowd. (For a minute there, I thought I was back in San Francisco. ;))

I think the lack of diversity was a symptom of the kinds of blogs they were reaching out to -- you notice they never asked "who writes a hip hop blog"? or "who writes an arts and culture blog?" or anything like that.

But part of it is the shortcoming about how other media represent social media on the web. They talk like it's all pundits -- I think one of the NBC folks said, "We want to have the most-read blog on the web, just like you!" Saywha..? I *don't* want to have the most-read blog, I only wanna be read by people who give a damn about what I'm saying. That "King of the Blogosphere" ish is *very* 2002.

Anyway, like I said, I'm happy we met up. Let's find some time soon to maybe sit down and have some lunch.

2/08/2007 1:00 PM


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