Company launches online magazine for blacks

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 3:36 p.m.

The Washington Post Co. launched a new online magazine Monday aimed at a black audience, featuring commentary from leading black writers, along with information on genealogy.

Called ‘‘The Root,’’ the Web site is the brain child of Post Co. Chairman Donald Graham and Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Gates, director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, serves as editor in chief of The Root. Lynette Clemetson, a former New York Times reporter, is the magazine’s managing editor. Jacob Weisberg, editor of the online magazine Slate, also owned by the Post Co., helped develop The Root.

On Monday, the Web site featured commentary on the presidential race by Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson and others. There were news articles from, also owned by the Post Co., and other sources.

Other writers who will contribute commentary include New Yorker staff writer Malcolm Gladwell and John H. McWhorter, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, the magazine said.

A section on the Web site titled ‘‘Roots’’ has information about DNA testing and assists registered users in mapping their family trees.

The site carries advertising from, a Web site co-founded by Gates, though it provides information on other DNA testing companies, too.

Gates said the genealogy component is key to the magazine’s mission.

‘‘Family history through genealogy is a critical piece to African American heritage,’’ he said in a statement. ‘‘To embrace the future, it is essential to understand one’s past. We are giving the black community the resources to restore the memories destroyed after the middle passage.’’

HBO has signed on as a founding sponsor, the magazine said.

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