When a young African American student in
an after-school program at the University of California, Berkeley equated academic success with “acting white,” it left an impression on tutor Carrletta Lindsay, an independent producer with San Francisco-based Pixel Corps. It also led to the development of the Internet television show I Am Blackness on ON Networks (www.onnetworks.com), a new media company that produces digital TV shows.
I Am Blackness, featuring a variety of African American lifestyles, is available at www.blackness.tv and is accessible through ON Networks partners such as iTunes, AT&T, and Telecom Italia. Lindsay and her team-technical producer Kenji Kato and cameraman and editor Kevin Cates-have produced two successful segments.
The Internet is becoming a popular alternative to more traditional sources of entertainment. In fact, 73% of American households use the Internet for entertainment purposes on a daily basis and nearly 16% of American households who use the Internet watch TV online. Twice as many are viewing entire TV shows online now than just last year, according to an independent quarterly survey by the Consumer Internet Barometer. From digital cable television programming to short-form shows such as I Am Blackness, the World Wide Web is providing producers with a rapidly increasing audience.
The demand also creates opportunity by opening up a new media forum that provides advantages for minorities who may feel shut out from the business and creative segments of traditional media, says Jenny Alonzo, executive vice president of marketing at mio.tv, a free site in the beta stage of production that offers video channels with original content on demand, gaming, social networking, and voice over IP capabilities. “In the past we were not in the mix because we didn’t have the connections, we didn’t have the right relationships. But that’s not the case anymore,” she says.
Lindsay believes these vehicles could also serve as an invaluable tool in the shaping of black expression. Jennifer Grongo, vice president of ON Networks, agrees: “It is an opportunity for African Americans to showcase just how heterogeneous they are,” she says. I Am Blackness is the network’s first culturally based program.
“There is an increased opportunity for content providers as well as entrepreneurs,” says Kathy Johnson, president of the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications. “And the fact that people are generating content online eliminates some of the barriers in terms of race and ethnicity.”
WORTH CHECKING OUT …
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