Blog Post

Trayvon Martin, theGrio and “new guards” of black media

African American news site has helped drive NBC’s coverage of the Trayvon Martin tragedy. Since its first piece on March 8, theGrio has published more than 250 stories on Martin and many of its videos have landed on shows like the Today Show and NBC Nightly News.

TheGrio’s success reflects the rise of a new generation of African American news as well as a new symbiosis between niche and mainstream media outlets.

In practice, this means that theGrio is not just borrowing content from NBC but also seeing its own material taken up across the network and its affiliates.

“We call it the trickle-up effect,” said theGrio’s executive editor, David Wilson, who helped launch the site in 2009.

In addition to the recent Martin coverage, the video-heavy site has also gained attention for its coverage of the Haiti earthquake and for viral clips like, “Michael Vick wants a new dog.”

Wilson says the site is profitable and that it received 2.5 million unique views last month. This number couldn’t be immediately confirmed but comScore reported last year that theGrio had experienced 300 percent year-over-year growth from 2010 to 2011.

The “New Guards”

TheGrio is joining other prominent new black media outlets like the Washington Post’s The Root and Huffington Post’s Black Voices.

The emergence of these outlets shows that African American media is sharing a similar experience as news media overall — one in which “digital natives” are best poised to succeed.

“The new guards in black media are being made online,” says Wilson.

He added that older African American media titles like Jet and Ebony were slow to embrace digital platforms, and at first treated them as a way to preserve existing subscription models. Newcomers have since been taking their place.

“There’s been a changing of the guard in black media.”

8 Responses to “Trayvon Martin, theGrio and “new guards” of black media”

  1. wait a second. TheGrio is Afro American News for Afro Americans? What if I started a news site that was white news for white people and only wrote about what is happening with white people. I’d be labeled a racist. However if blacks do it they are not being racist? Oh right blacks can’t be racist. Just like BET. There is no reason to have a seperate news organisation for black people. We share the same language, the same morals, the same way of thinking, right? I understand hispanic, japanese, italian TV and news because they have a different language. But Afro Americans having a split from traditional news in America is just plain racist.

    • Jeff Reese

      No Whitedude, you “understand” nothing apparently. None of those networks are about language, they are about culture and shared experience. And from ad perspective they are about buying habits that differ and over-index for a certain community. Skin color is no more superficial than gender, and if your interests and experiences differ based on one, then why not the other. If you don’t have a problem with GQ being for men or Cosmo being for women the shutup about BET

    • shalane

      The difference is that because we are minorities. The majority of news site DO focus on “white news”as you call it and are targeted toward white people (because again, news outlets are in the business of making money). The analogy below is a great one, not different than Lifetime focusing on women, or Golf channel focusing on golf enthusiasts, I think its ok for a channel to focus on content related to african american culture. And don’t forget, the channel is not exclusive to black people. It’s on just about every basic cable tier and all can watch. . . whether people have an interest in it or not, is up to them

  2. stan chaz

    We need to bring some good out of this terrible tragedy. We need to prevent MORE of these senseless killings. The organization called ALEC has actively fostered the spread of  “STAND YOUR GROUND” laws to many states. These are the very same laws that led to the Trayvon Martin murder in Florida….laws that “allow” vigilantes to be judge-jury-and-executioners! Some mainstream corporations have funded ALEC. BUT… as their funding has been publicized, they have withdrawn their support. Call or write or email the following two ALEC supporters: JOHNSON  and JOHNSON, and STATE FARM …or ….visit Please urge these two companies to their cut ties with ALEC. Tell them that they should not want their brands associated with the dangerous laws ALEC promotes — including voter suppression, NRA-backed “stand your ground” laws, extreme racial profiling laws targeting immigrants, privatizing public education and protecting corporate polluters. If you do not want YOUR hard earned money to be used AGAINST your best interests, then tell State Farm and Johnson and Johnson, in no uncertain terms:  DON’T FUND ALEC! Stand YOUR ground!