This post is based on a Facebook entry I, Zennie Abraham, created just to clarify where I stand on the media landscape. I’ve said this over the years, but it bears repeating and updating: I’m a blogger and vlogger, not a journalist.
This is what I wrote at Facebook:
Hey (Oakland City Council District Four Candidate) Pamela Harris. Just an FYI for you. I believe in giving everyone who runs for office a platform – and for them to have their own platform.
Yes, early on, I promoted my friend Joseph Tanios as a great candidate for the seat. But I never once let that stop me from promoting you or Sheng Thao or Nayeli Maxson or anyone else!
The people of Oakland should be well informed on who is who and your story!
My media system is egalitarian: the more you use your space on my Oakland News Now blog, the more you promote yourself! Just like Facebook!
Zennie Abraham Is A Blogger / Vlogger, NOT A Journalist
It’s impossible to be objective in media. The moment a person selects a story to do or agrees to do a news assignment, then they reveal their value structure. And a journalist who does nothing but quote people, only acts as a kind of gossip-monger, who’s whole message can be spun because that writer wants access to that source.
I also hold that journalists have operated in a way that is both racist and hypocritical. The underlying idea that someone white has the better idea or is the authority, whereas every effort is made to somehow explain away a black person.
On top of that, the very idea of being a journalist in America has meant someone white telling the story of someone black, rather than the black person telling their own story. Look at the American history of whites-only newsrooms telling the black American story! Look at the number of news organizations that have token numbers of blacks in their ranks, today.
And to underscore my point, just this week, I referred to the coverage of a news organization as being inherently racist, only to have someone, a journalist, from that organization private message me to ask why I tweeted what I did. I pointed to a recent political story such that they reported the criminal backgrounds of black candidates for office in that city, but failed to mention the criminal backgrounds of the white candidates for office – and they had them!
The man, who I considered a friend, asked me “So you think my white eyes are the problem?” And my response was a simple “yes”. As a white person, he’s not capable of seeing a story in the way I do as a black person (and vice versa) because how different people treat you based on your skin forms how you see the World. You can’t help it. From that perspective, it’s impossible for any reporter to be objective. In my view, saying that a person is an “objective journalist” is a psychotic joke.
Blogging And Bloggers Present An Honest View Of The World
By contrast, there’s an abundance of black bloggers and bloggers of color have changed the World! Look at the impact of bloggers on what is called “The Arab Spring.” Look at how bloggers propelled the rise of the Obama Generation! I was one of the first 124 bloggers (and only blogger in Oakland) ever invited to cover the Democratic National Convention – and out of a pool of 400 blogs nationwide.
By contrast, look at how mainstream media news papers and organizations in the SF / Oakland Bay Area knee-jerk promote any black person who attacks another black person in a politically powerful position!
This has gone on for two generations without challenge until I came along – first with the Montclarion in 1993, and then as an SF City Brights Blogger in 2009, and now with my own firm Zennie62Media.
I am a blogger and vlogger, not a journalist! I started Oakland’s first true blog Oakland Focus and Oakland’s first YouTube Partner Channel, Zennie62.
There are people who just can’t stand someone black who has a platform that doesn’t cater to their traditional views of who should have power and authority. My media was made to counter them, and I do so with gusto and pleasure!
Bloggers and Vloggers Do Have A Code Of Ethics
Contrary to the crazy idea that Bloggers and Vloggers are “freewheeling” (whatever that means) we have a code of ethics that says that, first, blog or video posts are not removed, but simply expanded upon via a new post or video, unless we receive a request to do so that is reasonable and logical to a situation. On the whole, that process allows for real-time reporting of news – corrections to a story are made as the story unfolds.
Second, the blogger should explain their personal position and express their values and feelings where necessary. Third, bloggers and vloggers must show more than they tell what happens – the idea is to bring the viewer into that person’s view of the world via tech: photos and livestream and videos accomplish that objective. Fourth, the vlogger in particular should show their face and talk to the audience – tell us what’s happening as we see it and let us see that person talking.
In my experience working with people trained as journalists, this way is antithetical to what they learned, and it’s why many fail at making the transition to a YouTube-ruled World, let alone make money in it. Journalism and journalists must stop resisting bloggers and vloggers, and learn from us, or risk the continuance of the natural process of change that favors what we do.
The vast majority of content on vloggers and bloggers, or “YouTube Influencers,” points to this change in the media World.
In fact, The News Market reports “the trend of hiring influencers as reporters is far from an amusing novelty. In fact, according to the viewing habits of young people, it could well be a very smart move on the part of traditional news. In 2016 The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism claimed that social media has overtaken television as the main source of news for 18-to-24-year-olds. Of the 18-to-24-year-olds surveyed, 28% cited social media as their main news source, compared with 24% for TV.”
Think about it.
And before you say, “But Zennie, you’re 56, not 26,” let me clue you in on something: according to SocialBlade, which provides a SAAS platform to analyze your social graph, the average age of those who consume my content is 28!
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media