By now, you've certainly caught this week's edition of the City Paper and noted the feature story on local blogs aka the Burghosphere — yes, dear readers, we have yinzerized the blogosphere. The Burghosphere is young, hip, sassy and an “alternative” to the mainstream media (MSM). Or so says all the white guys writing the blogs. And if they don't know alternative, then I ask who among us does?
Not that I have anything against white guys per se and I certainly 'fess up to reading their blogs on a regular basis – Carbolic Smoke Ball; 2 Political Junkies; Pittsburgh Rocket; Angry Drunk Bureacrat; and, of course, MacYapper. They make me laugh, cry, smirk, snicker, gnash my teeth, and frequently think about Pittsburgh in a new and interesting way.
But all this fuss about bloggers rocking the mainstream media is just a bunch of hooey. The absence of a diverse range of voices in the Burghosphere should at least warrant a mention in a story. The outgoing CP news editor (and all around groovy white guy) Marty Levine quotes two female bloggers – Maria of 2 Political Junkies and Pittgirl who chooses to remain anonymous. They include a grammatically challenged excerpt from this blog and that's pretty much it for diverse voices. I'm not suggesting the City Paper ignored minority or alternative voices — I'm pointing out that they don't appear to exist in Pittsburgh. Two chicks and an irreverent lesbian do not an alternative media make.
Where are Pittsburgh's African-American blogs? What about the disability community? We have a significant number of immigrants. Or what about our vibrant young art community — especially those who are politically aware and active? They are all over MySpace so its certainly not about a lack of intimacy with technology. And the responsibility lies among those of us who are counted among minority voices — we can't simply cede control of yet another medium to the powers that be and decry their lack of attention to us.
My opinion? The blogosphere and the Burgosphere are rife with the same issues that keep alternative voices suppressed in the mainstream — access, leisure time, affordability, collegiality, literacy, etc. To the detriment of us all.
We can keep talking about which white guy done the other white guy wrong. We can keep the bathrobe/coffee cup iconography sacred. We can keep posting comments on each other's blogs. But until we find a way to make this whole 'sphere accessible to our sisters and brothers who are disenfranchised, disempowered and dissatisfied with the status quo … then let's not kid ourselves about being out of the mainstream.