Lynne d Johnson



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11.21.07 01:31 PM

Can AOL Black Voices Become the ish?

If you ever read Crain's New York Business, you'd come away with the feeling that there's some sort of love for Tariq Muhammad, the new director of AOL Black Voices. On 11/14, in "AOL director eyes niche," and subsequently on 11/18 in AOL Black Voices pumping up volume," in reference to the 20 million African-American Internet users in the United States, Amanda Fung wrote:

AOL Black Voices attracts only a fraction of those nationwide users. Nevertheless, the site, which had just 2.5 million unique visitors in September, is edging out its major rivals., a social networking site for African-Americans, had 2.2 million, and, the entertainment and news Web site operated by Viacom’s BET Network, had 2.3 million, according to comScore Media Metrix.

And how Mr. Muhammad plans to do this is by becoming the Black CNN (hey, I thought that was rap).

Mr. Muhammad hopes to beef up Black Voices' content, making it an even better source of online news and information for African-Americans. Ideally, he says, Black Voices will be so comprehensive that users will no longer have to go to sites like for news. But he acknowledges that the company has work to do.

But there's not only BP and BET that Mr. Muhammad will have to contend with, a few upstarts are on the rise, looking to fill their own niches in African-American and urban niche communities. (I don't know how African-American became a niche.) For one, we have yet to to see what will come out of IAC's Black initiative, expected to launch January 2008.

IAC plans ethnic website to cater for all U.S. blacks:

"There exists enormous opportunity in today's online landscape to provide blacks with an experience that engages their unique communities through a collective voice," said Johnny Taylor, the business's new chief executive. [BizReport]

According to sources, there's also something [major] on the horizon over at the newly joined venture between Giant Magazine and Radio One. In an initial press release about the acquisition of Giant by Radio One, Alfred C. Liggins, III, Radio One’s CEO and President stated,

“This is a good strategic deal for us. For a limited amount of capital, we have now established a presence in the print media world and should be able to leverage our other media assets in various ways to increase the likelihood of success in what is unquestionably a challenging, but important, business. Furthermore, I am excited to have yet another relevant platform to help us build what we believe can become a significant online business in the not too distant future.” [Giant]

It's so beginning to look a lot like 1999 all over again.

Bonus: Interview with Tariq Muhammad, Director of AOL Black Voices [BlackWeb2.0]

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