By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group
About a year ago, I had the chance to do a two-part interview with Maurice Cherry. Part one covered how he created the Black Weblog Awards, which showcases the best and brightest in the Black blogosphere in more than 30 categories. Since creating the awards back in 2005, Cherry has watched it grow. This year, he has shifted the nominations and awards dates so that winners can be presented live at the Blogging While Brown conference, scheduled for July 8-10 in Los Angeles.
“When I spoke at the 2010 Blogging While Brown Conference, it was a rare opportunity to not just be recognized for the Black Weblog Awards, but to speak directly with voters, nominees, and winners,” says Cherry. “Since I had supported the Blogging While Brown Conference since day one, the thought of collaborating for the 2011 Black Weblog Awards was a no-brainer.”
But in order to accommodate the schedule for Blogging While Brown, as well as the location, there are some significant changes to the overall schedule for the Black Weblog Awards, says Cherry. “In the past, the Black Weblog Awards was a full summer event which transpired from June to September,” he explains. “Now, our nomination period has been shortened to two weeks, and our finalist voting period has been shortened to a month.” Nominations begin today, he adds.
And this year, even more categories are being added. “Even though we have more than 35 categories, there are still corners of the blogosphere that deserve recognition. So in order to expand our offerings to reach as much of the Black blogosphere as possible, we are currently accepting categories,” says Cherry. Some that have already been submitted include Inspirational Blog, Best Fiction Blog and Best Lifestyle Blog.
In 2010, the award program received more than 27,000 ballots for its finalists, says Cherry. “I think with the live show, we should definitely exceed those numbers!”
Cherry began efforts last year to find sponsors for the awards. “Last year was a real lesson for us when it came to actively seeking sponsorship. It’s the first year we really actively sought out sponsors, and it was a good learning experience,” he says. “Now that we are collaborating with the Blogging While Brown Conference, that doesn’t mean that we’re not looking for sponsors, because putting on a live show is still quite an undertaking! So if you’re a business or company that supports our mission and wants to help us, we want to hear from you!”
Cherry urges people who have just found out about the awards to enter. “We get people every year who find out about the Awards and then say `oh, I’ll enter next year.’ Why wait? Why not throw your hat in the ring and get your readers involved?” he asks. “It’s all about knowing your blog’s worth and knowing your unique voice in the blogosphere. That’s why you should enter your blog.”
Journalists, especially National Association of Black Journalists members, should participate in the awards, says Cherry. “There may be a few journalists who get it, but being able to embrace the new media as well as those are successfully navigating it is still a challenge to overcome,” he observes.
You can see the complete list of winners in 2010 here.