Tupac Statue a Laughing Matter?

News & Notes Web producer Geoffrey Bennett talks with Farai Chideya about the stories building buzz on our blog, including listener reaction to a recent bloggers' roundtable segment about a statue of rapper Tupac Shakur.

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FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

This is NEWS & NOTES. I'm Farai Chideya.

From Tupac to Genarlow to Wall Street, our blog News & Views lets you have your say on the headlines and about our show. NEWS & NOTES Web producer Geoffrey Bennett is here to tell us all about it.

Hey, Geoffrey.

GEOFFREY BENNETT: Hey, Farai.

CHIDEYA: So on Monday's Bloggers' Roundtable, we talked about a noose that was found hanging around the neck of rapper Tupac Shakur's memorial statue. And I understand some listeners took offense to that conversation. They said so on our blog. What's up?

BENNETT: Yeah. They're offended not by our coverage of our story but by the bloggers reaction to it. One guest in particular thought that Tupac's statue itself was pretty funny.

Here's what happened.

(Soundbite of archived NPR recording)

Ms. LIZA SABATER (Founder, Culture Kitchen): The statue itself - did you see it?

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHIDEYA: Why don't you tell us…

Ms. SABATER: It doesn't look like him.

CHIDEYA: Tell us a little bit about the statue. I've heard a lot of criticism of what the statue actually looks like, which is why you're laughing.

Ms. SABATER: It looks nothing like him.

BENNETT: So that's what happened. So I have to say it, most people who I know saw the statue had very similar reactions, saying it looked nothing like Tupac, but, you know, his much, much older uncle. But I remember…

CHIDEYA: I believe Liza Sabater called it Uncle Ben.

BENNETT: Right, exactly. And on our blog, a reader named Joan Brooks(ph) said she was, quote, "disappointed by the ignorance in school yard, giggling and name-calling." And a couple of other readers agreed with her. But all told, I'm sure our bloggers meant no disrespecting.

On our blog, there's a photo of the statue so people can go and look at it and make up their own minds about it.

CHIDEYA: So we've been covering Genarlow Wilson, the 21-year-old who was released from a Georgia prison after facing a 10-year sentence for a teen sex conviction. How's that been playing out on the blog?

BENNETT: Well, you know, reaction to Wilson's imprisonment and his release never reached the fever-pitch of, say, the Jena Six coverage. But on our blog and elsewhere, people seem to express a sentiment that justice for Genarlow was slow in coming and they're glad it they finally did.

One reader, Daniel Holloway(ph), summed it up this way. He wrote: This case shows the problem with trying to interpret the laws based on wording rather than intent. I'm glad Wilson was freed. Bravo to the Georgia Supreme Court, he wrote.

CHIDEYA: So we also have another installment of the online series, Speak Your Mind.

BENNETT: We do. It's a series where we allow our readers to write at length about an issue of their choosing. This week we have piece by filmmaker Tambay Obenson. He calls for autonomous black-owned film companies. He says that cinema informs and educates, and when you're not at present, you're not valued. And that piece has sparked a lot of conversation about filmmakers like Tyler Perry and Spike Lee.

CHIDEYA: So what else is popping off?

BENNETT: Well, Stan O'Neal, having left Merrill Lynch, and rumors about Dick Parsons leaving Time Warner that would leave three black CEOs so people are talking about the impact that that might have.

They're talking about Barack Obama's presidential campaign, finally putting a nail in the coffin on that controversy about Obama and his ties to gospel singer Donny McClurkin. And they're also talking about your interview yesterday with Nikki Giovanni.

CHIDEYA: Fantastic. Geoff, thanks so much.

BENNETT: Thank you.

CHIDEYA: Geoffrey Bennett is the Web producer for NEWS & NOTES, and he joined me at our studios at NPR West.

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