What's Happening on Our Blog?

News & Notes Web producer Geoffrey Bennett talks to Farai Chideya about response on our blog, "News & Views," to our coverage of the death penalty and a new kind of tourism in Kenya.

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FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

A new kind of tourism in Kenya, a renewed death penalty debate - those are just the - a couple of the topics you've been discussing on our blog, News and Views. Geoff Bennett is the Web producer for NEWS & NOTES.

Hey, how are you doing?

Mr. GEOFFREY BENNETT: Hey, Farai. I'm doing well.

CHIDEYA: So what's going on, on our blog?

BENNETT: Well, last week on the show, we took a closer look at the study that purported to show a link between the death penalty and a decrease in violent crime. Now, the merits to that study were disputed, and on our blog, one of our readers was skeptical about it. He wrote, most people involved in a crime that results in someone's death are not consciously considering the death penalty at the moment they commit the crimes. These are generally crimes of passion, and the remaining ones simply don't expect to get caught.

And on Monday on our blog, we linked to an article about a new wave of sex tourism in Kenya involving wealthy British women in their 50s and 60s who are flocking to Kenya's beaches for, shall we say, some companionship with young Kenyan men. We asked the question: Is this exploitative? One of our readers using the alias KLW Country wrote: I think it's more a question of power combined with the changing gender roles that are at play. Now women feel empowered to do the same thing as men.

Another reader Jennette Belveau(ph) called it a simple commodification of sex and not a, quote, "power game or neocolonialism."

And four months later, people are still talking about the Jena 6 case.

CHIDEYA: All right. So that's what's happening on our blog, but what about the black blogosphere in general? Do you have any sense of what's going on?

BENNETT: Well, this story right now is this week-long series that NBC News is doing on the state of black women in America. We talked about it in the show last week, and it's called "African-American Women: Where They Stand." Now, some bloggers haven't been exactly bowled over by what they've seen. The first part of the series is about black women making headway in education. It was contrasted with stats showing a decline in the numbers of black men in college.

Gina McCauley of the blog "What About Our Daughters" saw it and posted: Only in America can a black women getting an education be presented as a tragedy or couched in terms of what black men aren't doing. All these wonderful stats about black women in the piece were immediately juxtaposed by some negative statistics about black men.

And the blog AverageBro posted similar thoughts from the - from a male perspective. He says NBC took a page from the, quote, "book of manufactured controversy and called the whole thing over sensationalized," and people have flooded NBC Web sites both with, you know, positive reviews and some not so positive. But the series isn't over, so maybe NBC can redeem itself in the eyes of those who found fault in some of the reporting.

CHIDEYA: And, of course, we talked to a couple of the folks on Monday. You can find that on our Web site.

BENNETT: Right.

CHIDEYA: And speaking of the election, I understand a few of our blogger friends are going to be participating in a political forum. What's that all about?

BENNETT: Right. Well, a lot of the bloggers are talking about the election as always, specifically about Oprah Winfrey going to some of the primary states on behalf of Barack Obama. And the cable network TV One is hosting a Democratic presidential forum exclusively online. So Clinton, Obama, Edwards, and some of the others will be participating on Saturday, and two of our regular blogger roundtable panelists - Michael Fauntroy and La Shawn Barber - are involved as well. And folks can find out more about how to watch it on our blog, News and Views.

CHIDEYA: All right. Well, Geoff, thanks so much.

BENNETT: Thank you.

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

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