In attempt to broaden its online audience, The Washington Post Company on Monday is to introduce an online magazine primarily for a black audience, with news and commentary on politics and culture, and tools for readers to research their family histories.
Henry Louis Gates Jr., a writer and a professor of African and African-American studies at Harvard, is the editor in chief of the magazine, called The Root, which he conceived with Donald E. Graham, chief executive of the company. The magazine is based in Washington, free to readers and will be found at www.theroot.com.
Several well-known authors and scholars have agreed to contribute to The Root, including Malcolm Gladwell and William Julius Wilson. The managing editor is Lynette Clemetson, who was until recently a reporter in Washington for the The New York Times and previously was a national and foreign correspondent for Newsweek.
The magazine they describe could be seen as a more highbrow, political alternative to established magazines like Ebony and sites like BlackAmericaWeb.com and BlackVoices.com . The Root’s emphasis on genealogy will set it apart from those competitors, which pay more attention to entertainment, lifestyle and consumption, the New York Times reports.
The site, which began coming together in October, is the brainchild of Gates and Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham. Gates got to know Graham through several years of joint service on the Pulitzer Prize committee. The Root is a spinoff of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive (WPNI), a wholly owned subsidiary of The Post Co. and the parent of washingtonpost.com.
When Graham broached the idea of The Root to Gates several months ago, "it took me precisely one nanosecond to say, 'I would love to do that,' " Gates said in an interview on Friday.
The Post is generally regarded among the leading daily American newspapers, along with The New York Times, which is known for its general reporting and international coverage, and The Wall Street Journal, which is known for its financial reporting. The Post has distinguished itself through its reporting on the workings of the White House, Congress, and other aspects of the U.S. government.
Unlike the Times and the Journal, however, it does not currently print a daily national edition for distribution away from the East Coast. However, a "National Weekly Edition", combining stories from a week of Post editions, is published. The majority of its newsprint readership is in the District of Columbia, as well as its suburbs in Maryland and Northern Virginia.
As of April 2007, its average weekday circulation was 699,130 and its Sunday circulation was 929,921, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, making it the seventh largest newspaper in the country by circulation, behind USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post and the New York Daily News. While its circulation, like that of almost all newspapers, has been slipping, it has one of the highest market-penetration rates of any metropolitan news daily.