Natalie Wyeth, spokeswoman for the convention committee, says criteria for selecting State Corps bloggers were readership, online ratings and focus on local and state politics. The General Pool will also be selected on the basis of readership and online ratings, she adds, with an emphasis on bloggers covering “national politics to niche issues of interest to specific communities.”
Race was not a factor in the selection of the State Corps, Wyeth repeatedly says.
But, to the frustration of black bloggers, the list appears to be mostly white — during a primary race in which black voters turned out in droves in Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi. And, they add, this pool is for coverage of a convention that might very well see the first African American presidential nominee.
In other words, this constitutes convention drama and, rightly or wrongly, people are getting called out, e-mails are being exchanged, accountability is being demanded. Francis L. Holland, one of the vocal black bloggers, sent e-mails to DNC officials asking that 15 black-operated blogs be added to the State Corps. “There is nothing ‘Democratic’ about an all-white Democratic National Convention floor blogging corps,” he wrote in an e-mail. Holland is also asking for the inclusion of 15 Latino-operated blogs.
L.N. Rock, a Silver Spring-based information technology professional and founder of the African American Political Pundit blog, likens this “black shut-out” in the State Corps to an “I’m sick-and-tired-of-being-sick-and-tired” Fannie Lou Hamer moment. The civil rights activist and Mississippian challenged her state’s all-white delegation at the 1964 Democratic convention.
“This is all very puzzling to me — and to a lot of black bloggers,” says Rock, who didn’t apply for the State Corps because he blogs about national issues. “The Democratic National Committee says it wants to be inclusive. It wants to have a big tent. And then this? What were they thinking?”
Hattip to John Ettorre of Working With Words.