'Brown bloggers' group gets a White House meet and greet
By Garance Franke-Ruta
Last week, President Obama drew notice for lunching with a group of A-list pundits at the White House.
But below the radar, his staff also has been reaching out to an array of less visible opinion-makers, including, for the first time, the long tail of the black blogosphere.
More than 60 small-site bloggers met Friday with Jesse Lee, director of the White House's Online Programs, and Corey Ealons, White House director of African American Media, while in the District for Blogging While Brown. The annual gathering of bloggers of color has become the largest get-together for black political bloggers in the nation.
"The media space is changing, and the bloggers in particular have unique audiences that they communicate with on a regular basis," said Ealons. The White House meeting was about "letting them know we are open and available for conversation -- a two-way conversation."
The meeting, brokered by Cheryl Contee of the blog Jack & Jill Politics and several months in the making, gave the White House a new audience for its health-care message -- an audience that Democrats believe will be critical in the fall elections. It also offered the bloggers a chance to connect with the administration and find ways to gain more White House access.
"Probably most of the questions from the bloggers had to do with access and what we had to do to get the same access as our white counterparts," said Gina McCauley, 34, an Austin-based attorney who founded the Blogging While Brown conference and blogs at whataboutourdaughters and michelleobamawatch.
"There' a difference," she said. "For example, apparently there are conference calls with bloggers -- and I don't know that there are any African American bloggers on those calls."
She also hoped that online live chatting events with Cabinet members could be arranged with some of the bloggers at the conference.
The bloggers of color represent what is known in Internet parlance as the long tail -- each has a smaller blog, but collectively they have a substantial audience. The trick for them is to figure out how to gain credibility and prominence as bloggers despite lacking the audience of some of the major political blogs, McCauley said.
Ealons, the African American Media director, declined to comment on who participated in the White House blogger conference calls, but Contee said she has been a participant in the past. Also joining recent calls have been: John Amato of Crooks and Liars, Jonathan Singer of MyDD, Sam Stein of the Huffington Post, Joe Sudbay of Americablog and John Morgan of the Pennsylvania Progressive.
June 22, 2010; 5:23 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Barack Obama
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