“Our general view is that news is a growth business,” said Eric Hippeau, managing director at Lerer Ventures, which has invested in PandoDaily, The Dodo, PolicyMic, NowThis News, Circa, and elsewhere. “There are many more people are accessing and interested in and engaging with news today than ever before, thanks to technology. So we’re bullish on content and we’re bullish on news. Clearly, we have to pick the right companies. Not everybody’s going to be a winner.”
For Hippeau, the organizations worth backing must be run by tech savvy, top-notch people focused on social distribution of stories that serve an existing but underserved niche audience.
Why venture capitalists are suddenly investing in news by Adrienne LaFrance
What I find interesting about this article is that the venture capitalist quoted here said that his firm is interested in investing in media companies that “serve an existing but underserved niche audience.”
I look at that phrase and think about the fact that there is no online equivalent to Cosmo, or Slate, or The New Yorker, or Refinery29 for young Black women.
I also think about the fact that the people who run digital media for WOC have been quoted saying that its difficult to get the funds they need to grow b/c investors aren’t interested in their media companies despite them having established popular brands.
Young Black women are the kind of “underserved niche audience” that overindexes in their use of social media and yet Wallstreet and Silicon Valley aren’t interested in investing in websites that are targeting us.
This saddens me b/c Black media institutions, esp Black women’s media institutions are critical. When they struggle, black creative economy struggles and Black women’s abilities to control and construct their own image and identities in the marketplace of national and international ideas struggles.
It means fewer opportunities to disrupt the single story that exists about Black women that was created for Black women by people who don’t love us (b/c media, to me, is about love). There are too many writers and editors today creating media about Black women and Black ppl that do not care about us as readers or as people who experience marginalization. Far too these peoples voices are enabled so that they carry over those of WOC.
I love the stalwart Black publications that are standing the test of time and I am coming to understand that if I have been frustrated with them or feel that they no longer speak to me, it is because they are tasked with the job of trying to speak to and for all of Black America.
As a young Black woman I want to consume Black media that is more focused on fashion, beauty, cultural criticism and avant-garde black art but existing Black media, which I think is invested in the idea of imbuing Black folks everywhere w/ a “sense of somebodyness”, must also speak to the Black parent, show nuanced and diverse images of Black families, or report on the successes of Black entrepreneurs.
There is a lot of work to be done around reversing the single story that exists about Blackness in America and it is also a lot of work for just a handful of institutions to take on.
And there is so much important work to be done in American society that can only be accomplished by Black media. Work like creating fashion journalism and visual narratives that display Black people’s sartorial imaginations and influence, or the project of producing more music journalism, especially prominent music criticism by Black people on hip-hop and other forms of Black music. It is also critical that we have a spaces, like the Black version of The New Yorker where Black intellectual culture can thrive.
It is also important that we have a space that provides a consistent and journalistic narrative around black subcultures and black alternative identity so that when we talk about black geek culture or black hipsters it will be from the perspective of something that is dynamic and growing and constant not something that is always “on the rise.”
Digital is the next frontier for Black media. I think the question is how will we get past the barriers to entry and the barriers to growth to create the Black media landscape that we all know should and can exist?
I want Black publications that lead the national conversation about Blackness and Black people in America.
I am tired of settling for anything less.