LIANE HANSEN, host:
When the magazine Fast Company named its Most Influential Women in Technology for 2010, Angela Benton made the list. Benton is getting noticed because of her efforts to fill a void in the online marketplace of information. In 2007, she launched Black Web 2.0, and she's the founder and CEO of BlackWebMedia. Black Web 2.0 is a beacon for those who want to know the trends, the movers and shakers, or what's happening with media and technology as it affects the African-American community.
Angela Benton is receiving the Woman of Power award at the National Urban League's centennial conference this weekend, here in Washington, D.C., and she's come into our studio. Welcome to the program.
Ms. ANGELA BENTON (Black Web sites 2.0, Founder, CEO, BlackWebMedia): Thanks for having me.
HANSEN: I'm imagining you sitting at a computer some three or four years ago, and being frustrated because you couldn't find what you wanted.
Ms. BENTON: Yeah.
HANSEN: Is that what happened?
Ms. BENTON: That is basically what happened. I was actually interviewing for a job, so I really just wanted to do research on what was going on in the market. You know, big media companies - you know, BET, who's owned by Viacom - and I was trying to find information on what they were doing in the digital space. And to my surprise, I couldn't find anything at all. And really, the biggest thing that came to mind is, there's got to be more people that are like me.
Like, I don't think I'm too much of a geek, but there's got to be other people like me, that are technically savvy, that like the industry, that are down and dirty with it, that know the technical side and also the business side.
HANSEN: So when people go to the site - say, if they want to find out what's happening at BET or Ebony magazine or - what's happening, your site is kind of an aggregate of those sites?
Ms. BENTON: Right. So, we cover those media entities from the business perspective. We also cover start-ups and entrepreneurs who will - happen to be African-American, who are in new media and technology. But you also find, you know, some - just general techie news 'cause we're all kind of techies at heart.
HANSEN: Right. So when you have bloggers writing about MapQuest or a new Blackberry device, it's not specific to African-Americans?
Ms. BENTON: Right. It's not specific to African-Americans, but I believe we had a story a couple of days ago and it was in regards to Twitter users and their emotions, and based on the cities that they were in. Now, that story wasn't necessarily black, but we feel like it's our job to dig a little bit deeper and say, okay, let's look at the top, you know, five to 10 markets that are African-American. What does the study say about that?
HANSEN: What's your target audience?
Ms. BENTON: Our target audience are African-Americans - or even, really, multicultural individuals, because a lot of different type of people come to the site. And when we first started, we would actually have some Caucasian commenters come on the site and it's like, is it safe here? And we welcome all people. So we don't want to be exclusive.
But generally, there are people from the age of 25 to 45. They're technically savvy. They have a household income of about $75,000 or more. And, you know, they really engage and read content on digital devices. So a computer, an iPad, a Kindle versus actually picking up a physical, print newspaper or magazine.
HANSEN: BlackWebMedia is a digital media company now, a portfolio of websites. You became the founder and CEO about three years after you launched Black Web 2.0, and that was the first website you launched.
Ms. BENTON: Right.
HANSEN: Do you have any additional ventures planned for BlackWebMedia?
Ms. BENTON: Yes. So, we definitely want to get in the mobile space. But really, what we are trying to build is something that would be similar to like what BET did for broadcast, or what Radio One did for radio. We're really trying to build that in the digital space. We want to do things that allow us to branch out to other types of content - video, mobile applications and the like.
HANSEN: You have things like Young Black Professional Guide, Politics 365. So, would you consider the differences between the web trends that are covered by your site and the mainstream tech blogs - is the difference basically race?
Ms. BENTON: The difference - it is race but we try to write, I guess, in ways that are culturally native. So, you know, African-Americans are, you know, we have a diverse, kind of rich kind of culture. So we still try to write that way, even though we're writing about technology and it has - people think it's boring and it's geeky. Well, we don't really try to write it that way.
HANSEN: Angela Benton is the founder and CEO of BlackWebMedia. This weekend, she receives the Woman of Power award at the National Urban League's centennial conference here in Washington. She launched Black Web 2.0 three years ago. And thank you for coming in.
Ms. BENTON: Thanks for having me.