NBC Returns The Grio to Original Owners and Will Launch Its Own Black-News ‘Vertical’

The move means there will be two websites focusing on African-American news that will be looking to hire more journalists.

A photo illustration shows a part of a TV screen with the TV network NBC News logo taken in Washington, D.C., on May 28, 2014.
A photo illustration shows a part of a TV screen with the TV network NBC News logo taken in Washington, D.C., on May 28, 2014. Mladen Antonov/Getty Images

Revamp to Feature Breaking News Video, Tie to Social Media

NBC is selling the Grio, its African American-oriented website, to its original owners and will create its own “vertical” on NBCNews.com targeting African Americans, according to David A. Wilson, the Grio’s co-creator and founder, and MSNBC spokeswoman Diana Rocco.

Neither would disclose the purchase price. Wilson said by telephone that he would expand the Grio into a video-centric, social media-oriented site while maintaining its ties with NBC News. “I think this is something you’re going to be impressed by,” Wilson said.

Launched in 2009, the Grio was one of the first sites that targeted African Americans and was sponsored by a major media corporation. It followed The Root, which the Washington Post Co. debuted in January 2008. Huffington Post purchased Black Voices and other AOL properties in 2011.

The Grio recorded 18,494,000 U.S. unique visitors in 2013, according to the comScore, Inc., research company, placing it behind WorldStarHipHop.com, BET Networks, HuffPost BlackVoices, MediaTakeOut.com, Bossip.com, and Madamenoire.com among black-oriented websites but ahead of The Root, NewsOne.com and Essence.com.

scarrIt is distinguished by its ties to NBC. Joy-Ann Reid, now an MSNBC anchor, was Grio managing editor.

Video was always one of its features. The website says, “TheGrio.com is the first video-centric news community site devoted to providing African Americans with stories and perspectives that appeal to them but are underrepresented in existing national news outlets. . . .”

Wilson told Journal-isms that he plans to take that further. His goal is to cover the news via video and distribute it through social media and Grio platforms. “The idea is to get video to the users first,” he said. The videos can be embedded into social media. “It’s the type of video we’re going to create” that will distinguish it, Wilson said, emphasizing “type.” Many news items on social media are not covered by the mainstream media, and the Grio plans to provide that video coverage, Wilson said. He said that he is still lining up investors and that the site will reflect the new vision next year.

A “significant portion” of the Grio’s nine employees, who are not all full-time, will remain, he said. They will relocate from NBC offices but remain in Manhattan. There will “definitely” be job openings for journalists and producers, he said.