Why There are Hierarchies in Black Blogging, VIBE Magazine & more

Blogging is hard. I am not ramping. It is difficult, despite how fun and rewarding it is. I have always loved it, and it was one of things that I just loved straight off the bat when I started in ’06, which by net standards, still makes me a blogging virgin.

Many parts of traditional media are suffering greatly at the moment like magazines during this recession. It has made me think twice on how I plan to position myself as I have started to look for a media job in London. One thing that many people bang on and on about is that no one reads paper anymore, and that blogs have replaced magazines, news etc.

I think it is really important to see a distinct difference in how blogs present media. Most smaller blogs are run by one person and subject to how that person wants to dissect whatever issue they are talking about. Most people are not paid to run their blog, so how the content comes across (whether it features original reporting or not) is subject to the actual energy and passion of the blogger.

I think that is so important to remember when commenting about the demise of magazines like VIBE (which I honestly think is on its’ way to being part of Magazine Death Pool‘s unfortunate dead magazines. And this is not me hating). Mags like VIBE have not adapted to the net the way they should have and thus are struggling to keep up. However, this is in the face of big gossip blogs like Concrete Loop that are scoringe exclusive interviews with big stars like Kanye West.

It sounds trite but it is true: a blog that adds value in an original way stands higher in the hierarchy than another blog, and this is more apparent in black media I think. A blog simply cannot just be a catalogue of thoughts anymore if it wants to grow and be successful – it has to add value in an intrinsic way.

Because it is so easy for anyone in the whole world to be an online publisher with WordPress, this has upped the ante in a different way now and created hierarchies of blogging. The blogs I am going to list below are ones which I think have changed the game for black blogging in my eyes just because how they have changed how I see things. And these are one person blogs, not group ones, even though I would have added Afro Spear as it is game changing, I think.

  • Black Girl With Long Hair: L at BGLH is game changing for one simple reason: this blogger does her research. She just does not find something else, she actually goes and interviews people on her own jack and puts up her findings on the blog. She does not come across as a blogger per se, but more of a hybrid blogger-journalist. I just love journalism in any form, and she has put natural hair journalism on the map with black girl with long hair. I cannot stress enough how original this blog is, and I would go as far as to say it is one of the best and most unique blogs I have ever read since I started blogging in 2006.
  • Invisible Woman has posted a long hiatus note, but wow, her blogging about black film was always juicy, hilarious and done with a passion. Even though there is a hiatus, I would recommend any black film enthusiasts to check out the archive because she wrote about black film in an excellent manner. Invisible Woman also did a fabulous 7 Question series with black directors which was fantastic.
  • Trinidad.Adventist.Gay?! is one of the most philosophical blogs in my feed, but again, it is how the blogger deconstructs homosexuality into his own narrative of being an Afro-Caribbean religious man. It is a thought-provoking read; he also used to interview other gay Afro-Caribbean people on the blog.
  • and finally, I will finish with Monie On The Outside. Again, it is one of things about making people who stumble across your blog come into your world. You know the show Cold Case? It’s one of my ultimate favourite TV series; what is great about it is that Det. Lily Rush always ‘sees’ the victim of the case at the end of the show as if, the case really is coming circle and closing. I would compare this sensation of ‘seeing’ what Monie writes about as being similar to Cold Case, because I have learnt a lot about the struggles that black lesbians in America are going through. But what is great about this blog is that it knows how to make light entertainment in a short digestible form with images to.

I read more blogs than just the ones above, but they are just ones that have really captured me. They make me see that blogging is not something that you can just batter out when you feel like it, but something that requires an amount of discipline such as trying to post every day.

The landscape of black media is changing. But I think the only blogs that are going to survive and be popular are the ones that offer something new to the reader. I don’t know if I will do Charcoal Ink forever, but I do know that I enjoy blogging and traditional media like magazines because I enjoy information.

Ends.

3 Roots of Unbalanced Blogging

In this post, I want to discuss the concept of online journalism, through the magnifying glass of black blogs/black-oriented blogs. The focus of my post will be entertainment/celebrity ones simply because they are high profile and controversial.

[Preface: I am by no means an expert on media or blogging but I know I love media and discussing trends in the media so I hope to start dialogue with this post.]

1. Content: I used to be a huge fan of this blog called Toya’s World. The author was an opinionated girl whose music news was always on point and it was a great source for music news as she would cover things that say Bossip or whatever didn’t. The reason why is related to Beyonce but before anyone calls me a psycho stan, let me explain. The author of the blog created a post ‘Cadillac Records’ saying that it was a ‘flop’ because it grossed $3.5m in its first weekend (£1.5m). This irked me for one reason and one reason only: the whole balance was not being conveyed. Mainstream media outlets like The Times & The Guardian l are always derided for being biased but how can blogs even say that they are different from mainstream media, if they are doing the exact same thing? The fact is, Cadillac Records opened in 600+ cinemas in the whole of the United States. For a huge country, that is a selective audience that will get to see it. So it was never going to do Quantum of Solance numbers and make £4m a day or whatever Quantum did, so how can a film that had such a limited release be a flop in its’ opening weekend when it entered the US Top 10 films? I really need someone to break it down for me. Of course, I am huge fan of her and I am excited about seeing her film but I am not a deluded person who thinks everything she does will be commercially great. Shit happens. But bloggers who are claiming to be platforms for news in entertainment should know better and display the news effectively. If an author is writing an opinion piece, I would understand but positing the film as a ‘flop’ when it hasn’t even been out for fortnight is overdoing it.

2. Audience: Readers are key for print magazines/newspapers and for online blogs. Readers inspire bloggers. I know I feel inspired and hope to write interesting posts in the hope that people comment. Which brings me onto who does the blogger serve? Bloggers do have to serve their readers to an extent but bloggers must always write what they feel. It is a difficult balance to get right. Which is why it boggles my mind when some blogs like the one mentioned above or even one like Bossip seem to be in a sort of ‘bi-polar’ relationship when it comes to certain celebrities. One moment, they are attacking Rihanna, the next moment they are all over her. One moment, they are saying Beyonce is a crap actress yet they post pix of her all the time! I do think many of these bloggers are very media savvy and they know that many people, like it or not, love to read about big stars like Bee or Britney, whether they admit it or not. I think it becomes ‘unbalanced blogging’ when it is clear that the blogger hates or has a vendetta against a certain famous person yet can’t keep their name out of their mouth. Case in point: Sandra Rose and her obsession with slagging off Beyonce and Barack Obama at every opportunity she gets.

3. Bias: We are all biased. This is fact and human nature. All I am saying is that bias in blogging, when you are trying to create a media empire like the way some bloggers are doing doesn’t work or it won’t pay off in the long run. Then again, this depends wholly on what your aim is. Look at a blog like Crunk & Disorderly – it is a very punchy, and witty blog that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It has many readers too as shown by its comments box. I think blogs like Crunk & Disorderly should see themselves as media portals for the new age. This does mean toning bias down a bit. Now, I am NOT saying that blogs should be fansites. I am not a delusional stan of any people. I love Mariah Carey but she irritates the hell out of me too. The passion of blogs should be retained but bias online will only end up hurting the blogs from growing into viable business opportunities. Advertisers want to align themselves with what is hip and cool, so that means the Concrete Loops of the world. However, blogs like Crunk & Disorderly should see themselves strategically as ’empires’. They are the ones that will succeed. In a world where ‘exclusive’ news rules, bias needs to be slowly faded away. After all, who wants to be Sandra-Rosed?

I love blogs. I find them fascinating canvasses of other people’s thoughts. I just feel like black entertainment news blogs have so much great potential. It’s a shame for them to suffer from unbalanced reporting due to not realising their potential.