The Grio and News One Merge Efforts

July 11, 2011  |  

By Alexis Garrett Stodghill

It will be announced today that Interactive One, which is owned by urban radio powerhouse Radio One, will be joining forces with NBC’s black news site TheGrio.com.  The Grio will partner with Interactive One’s property, NewsOne.com, to better capitalize on their reporting and audience synergies. The New York Times reports that News One’s advertising sales savvy will complement the content-creating strengths offered by The Grio, providing short term gains in traffic and revenue. In addition, a key intent of this integration is the positioning of both groups to produce coordinated coverage of the 2012 elections. More from The New York Times:

The looming election season of 2012 and the increase in niche Web sites and advertising to African-Americans and other minority groups helped to propel the alliance. TheGrio will coordinate the sharing of content from one site to the next, and NewsOne will take the lead on advertising sales efforts, a critical part of the alliance. […]

According to comScore, from May 2010 to May 2011, the total audience for TheGrio grew 300 percent, to 1.3 million viewers from 319,000. NewsOne also had significant growth in the same period, increasing its viewership to 881,000 from 356,000.

No changes in the editorial or management teams are expected for either site in the near future.

The president of NBC News, Steve Capus, told The Times that, “We instantly grew the business as a result of this partnership.” Advertising revenue that NBC News might  partake of as the partnership unfolds includes ad dollars from Interactive One clients such as Ford and American Express.

As a contributor to NewsOne.com, I know from experience that the influx of general market reporting resources into News One from The Grio will be a boon to that group. TheGrio.com, as a member of the MSNBC family of sites, has unparalleled access to the national and local resources of NBC, which News One cannot match alone.

In addition to the advertising sales expertise already mentioned, News One will also bring a truly authentic African-American audience to the table, which will enhance the sales proposition of The Grio. Fed by its relationship with BlackPlanet.com and the urban station sites owned by its parent company, NewsOne.com boasts a high concentration of black readers. This can better ensure that when advertisers buy “eyeballs” on The Grio, they will be reaching a black audience, and not merely a general market audience reaching the site through search or links from other NBC outlets.

This is definitely a win-win partnership for News One, The Grio, and ultimately their advertisers. The only caveat is the inevitable watering down of the black perspective that takes place as greater corporate interests become invested in black media enterprises. Last week I praised the purchase of a minority stake in Johnson Publishing Co. by JP Morgan Chase as an important move for the firm, as black companies cannot grow into robust corporations without general market investment. At the same time, the retention of ultimate control by African-American executives is key, which is the case for Johnson Publishing.

Will this be the case for The Grio and News One? Time will tell. Numerous key leaders on both sides of this deal are not African-American. It will be interesting to see how their combined delivery of black news is affected by this.

With fewer black people in control at these African-American news sites as more entities get involved, it is possible that the power of this media enterprise to represent our interests authentically will be diluted. As The Grio and News One cooperate to better serve the black community, let’s hope they don’t lose the connection to the social purpose behind the media message in the search for dollars.

 

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