African American news site theGrio.com 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”
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.”