Following the racial justice uprisings last year, S. Mitra Kalita, the former head of digital programming for CNN and a 2021 Nieman Visiting Fellow, and Sara Lomax-Reese, the president and CEO of WURD Radio, knew they wanted to collaborate on a project to meet the historic moment. From there, URL Media was born as “a decentralized, multi-platform network of high-performing Black and Brown media organizations.”
Instead of starting a news outlet from scratch, Kalita and Lomax-Reese opted to provide support for existing media outlets owned by people of color. URL Media—which stands for Uplift, Respect and Love—will “share content, distribution and other resources to enhance reach, expand revenue and build long-term sustainability.”
URL Media soft-launched in January with eight media partners: WURD, Epicenter-NYC, ScrollStack, Scalawag, Documented, The Haitian Times, TBN 24 and Palabra. The organization is still a work in progress and the official launch date is to be announced.
The current partners are already testing distributing and sharing content with each other. For example, WURD did an interview with the Mississippi legislature regarding the water crisis, and Scalawag expanded that content, which was shared with the other platforms, according to Kalita.
The duo shared that they are focused on working out and finalizing all the processes of content sharing as well as advertising and sponsorship as the primary initial revenue stream. The organization also needs to develop a plan for revenue sharing with partners, which would mean additional business for them, Lomax-Reese explained.
Additionally, Kalita and Lomax-Reese have launched a newsletter for URL Media, which currently contains updates about the organization’s journey. The newsletter goes out every two weeks, but they are hoping to send it out weekly soon with content from their partners that overlaps and that people will find actionable.
So far, the response has been “amazing” Kalita said. URL Media received an abundance of newsletter sign-ups and a number of Black and brown creators seeking a way to be a part of the project. Additionally, in March, URL Media received a grant from Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Archewell Foundation.
“That was a big news moment for us,” Kalita said. “It’s really redeeming that in the week that Megan Markle exposes racism in the royal family…she would turn to us as a solution to amplify storytelling.”
While the racial reckoning in the nation is ongoing, many experts believe there is still a lot of work to do—especially in newsrooms.
“What URL Media offers right now is a way to authentically empower Black and brown people…because right now, there’s this incredible convergence of interest, will, need and money,” Lomax-Reese said. “We’re just hoping that the work we’re doing with URL Media and our individual media outlets can meaningfully help to shift the power dynamics because they have to change in order for this country to truly be just.”