h&f 0022 Unity ’08 Convention, Chicago IL July 23-27 – 1st of 2 posts.

[hate to write long, but wanted to summarize a few things in one take. bear with me…]

What is Unity 2008?  [Using their own words is a best bet]:

  • The UNITY ’08 Convention [is] the largest gathering of journalists of color. Nearly 10,000 journalists and media executives will meet to discuss timely issues affecting journalism and the media industry.
  • UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc. is a coalition of the four alliances, the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association. Our mission is to advocate fair and accurate news coverage about people of color, and aggressively challenge the industry to staff its organizations at all levels to reflect the nation’s diversity.

And I’ll be danged if that’s not exactly what it is.  But, there aren’t just minority journalists here.  There are journalists of all ethnicities – thousands of them.  The convention is held once every four years, adding to the bona fides of the meeting as a unique way to take the pulse of journalism in general and generate ideas to use when its over.

Of course, the once every four year schedule makes this a presidential tour stop.   Obama spoke today, touching on themes ranging from affirmative action to his recent trip to Europe. 

My first session, on Thursday, was Activism and Blogging, sponsored by Chevrolet a refreshing take on the digital world as it was a departure from stereotyped hipster culture to the world of people don’t have time to look in mirrors and admire their own carefully crafted and dissheveled john varvatos looks. (It’s fly gear… no need to front like you don’t like it – “this old thing??” or don’t have loot to cop it.)  They’re media veterans who’ve just kept up with the tools of the day.

There was Howard Witt, the Chicago Tribune Southwest Bureau Chief, known as the first major news media reporter to bring the Jena 6 case to light, and for his acknowledment that the subsequent national footprint of the story owed solely to the impetus of black bloggers.   His reporting has resulted in an unofficial “civil rights” beat as he tracks race incidents across the country.

Witt reiterated a point that will probably gain more and more mainstream attention: interlinked blogs are proving the main tool for news dissemination and subsequent activism, the Afrosphere being the case in point. Any newspaper’s print or web version of an article is nowadays just a marker as you hope that a given article will gain a circuit on the web among influencers.  If not, the story, good or bad, dies right there in print or on your own site.  What an economy of information…  I would call it more of a hustler’s economy than the storied “democratic economy” of the web.  There is truth there, but you have to test the hustler’s versions of it, the people who just get out and write, write, write, forward, forward, forward, link, link, link.

Think: the hustler’s economy means bloggers can literally control 90% of conversation translated through major media while representing as much as 100% or as little as 0% of the reality.  News can thus be made by …news, and not by events.  That’s a neutral force, by definition.  The sun burns and warms.  A blog burns or informs.  Keep your eyes and mind sharp when reading. It’s always been a hustler’s world.

Christopher Barger, GM Director of Global Communications Technology, offered up real proof of concept with respect to commercializing social media.   He has been able to establish a credible dialogue with bloggers about GM cars.  Obviously, given the skeptical culture of internet media leaders and, worse, the possibilty of being mad flamed by a blogger’s posting of your overt attempt to just use them to sell something… you have to find a way to real conversation.  Christopher offered examples and techniques of how he’s doing that with GM.  The cool thing about it is that blogging and regular old conversation is a way for people to get to the innards of the products – seeing how they’re made, meeting the people behind them, etc.  Check here for example: FastlaneIf you ‘re going to sell something without the typical psych subterfuge, then establishing a trusted context for people to love or hate what you do is the only way.

A solid panel discussion.


~ by ericjhenderson on July 29, 2008.

2 Responses to “h&f 0022 Unity ’08 Convention, Chicago IL July 23-27 – 1st of 2 posts.”

  1. Thank you for linking to the afrosphere’s wikipedia page.

  2. Most definitely, Francis. Thanks to you guys for keeping the good hustle.


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