Mainstream Media vs the Burghosphere: Which White Men Should You Listen To?

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. 


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  • Them thar R fightn words.
    But I'm not sure what side I'm fight for N@.
    Since the blog article you mention didn't mention me — I agree that the City Paper's article had a blind spot in terms of real alternative voices.
    But, since today I also went to city council to speak, yet again, in person, on cable tv — and then went to the Market House to talk to 80 seniors, in person to give out audio/music & message CDs — I'm not sure I qualify as a bathrob whatever….
    It is important to make the leap into the carbon based world. It is important to have diversity too.
    Perhaps I can't see the forest through all this bark.

  • Well, actually, I am african american. I've actually been online with my own local site and/or site since 1997 or thereabouts. I even link to you. And no the White Man has never interviewed me about the Internets or policy questions even though I've been in local politics and website stuff for many many years…I'm sure its not deliberate.
    Philip Shropshire
    PS: I have linked to you homophobic black male though I may be (I still link to that superhero duo Gayboy and Girlydyke but they don't post much anymore…)…a mutual link would be nice. That would show the evil white male establishment blah blah blah…

  • Hey Philip! I've actually visited your site before, but took a closer look this afternoon — you are on the blogroll. I also picked up a few links to other blogs by local individuals who are African-American. So thanks for that, too. I'd like to be a gay superhero one day ! I guess a girl can dream …

  • Unless there's an awesome site called the Pittsburgh Rocket that I haven't seen yet, I think you mean the Pittsburgh Comet.
    I'm not sure if “We can keep the bathrobe/coffee cup iconography sacred” is a shot at me. I suspect it is not, but I'll certainly confess that I dressed that way because it was the surest way of getting them to run my photo.
    What's your problem? In the cartoon they created for the cover, one blogger was a punky white girl, and the other a black guy; wheras the representative of the “press” was a white male. If that doesn't prove our alternatishness, I don't know what will!

  • Rocket, comet … all instruments of the patriarchy anyway! 🙂
    Sorry for the mistake. Obviously my zeal for sticking it to the man got the best of me.
    Alternatishness or alternatishpress?

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