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A new Globe vertical will explore the racial wealth gap

Earlier today The Boston Globe unveiled Money, Power, Inequality, a new vertical dedicated to reporting on the racial wealth gap. It’s got its own section on the paper’s website as well as its own editor-in-chief, Kris Hooks, previously an assistant metro editor who worked at the NPR affiliate in Sacramento, California, before coming to the Globe. He also teaches a course on Race & Gender in the Media at Sacramento City College. Hooks writes:

The Globe has launched a new team that will zero in on the racial wealth gap, why it persists, and what can be done to close it. The team, called Money, Power, Inequality, will explore the city’s history of inequities, probing Boston’s role in the slave trade and tracing the systems that have perpetuated the racial wealth gap since. And we’ll look beyond Boston, to communities where prices are lower, but power imbalances still flourish.

Longtime Globe journalist Milton Valencia will serve as deputy editor. The initiative, announced last January, is being supported with a $750,000 grant from the Barr Foundation.

Money, Power, Inequality comes on the heels of “Nightmare in Mission Hill,” a text-based series, podcast and documentary film that attempts to deal with the racist legacy left behind by the 1989 Carol and Charles Stuart case, in which Charles Stuart murdered his wife and blamed it on a Black man, turning the city upside-down for months.

It also follows the end of the Globe’s involvement in The Emancipator, a collaboration with Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research. Unlike The Emancipator, whose Globe half was based in the paper’s opinion section, Money, Power, Inequality will be part of the news operation — and will be entirely under the control of the Globe.

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Problems with antiracism center cast the Emancipator-Globe split in a new light

Ibram X. Kendi. Photo (cc) 2019 by Montclair Film.

In light of the problems (free link) that have become public at Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research, Scott Van Voorhis (sub. req.) asks a pertinent question: What really happened with the split between The Boston Globe and The Emancipator, which was a signature project of the center and its founder, Ibram X. Kendi? The Emancipator continues to publish solely under the auspices of the center, but it didn’t quite make sense earlier this year when the Globe announced that the partnership was ending after two years. Van Voorhis, who produces the newsletter Contrarian Boston, writes:

In announcing the move, the Globe characterized it as the end of a two-year partnership. Hmm. Back in March 2021, when the Globe announced it was teaming up with Kendi and the BU Center for Antiracist Research to launch the digital publication, there was no mention of a two-year deal, or of any time limit to the agreement, for that matter.

Van Voorhis urges the Globe to say more about what was behind the split, but I don’t know if it’s really all that complicated. Based on recent reporting, it’s pretty clear that Kendi was difficult to work with and that the center’s spending was not fully accounted for. That said, The Emancipator continues to do good work and — full disclosure — our Northeastern journalism students have partnered with the site, as in this series on restorative justice.

Also: Overdue kudos to BU’s independent student newspaper, The Daily Free Press, whose Sept. 21 deep dive represents the definitive account (for now) of what went wrong at the center. Reporters Molly Farrar and Lydia Evans began working on the story last December, according to their account. Student journalism rocks.

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The Boston Globe ends its involvement with The Emancipator

For some time now, Boston Globe insiders have known that the Globe opinion section was going to cease co-publishing The Emancipator, a digital publication on racial justice. Now the Globe is making it official: Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research will continue to publish The Emancipator without the Globe’s involvement.

The following message to Globe staff members, from chief executive Linda Henry and editorial page editor Jim Dao, went out a little while ago. It was provided to me by a trusted source.

Hi team,

In March 2021, we embarked on an ambitious new media collaboration with Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research to build and launch The Emancipator, a non-profit, solutions-focused multimedia newsroom that would help drive the national conversation on racial justice and equity with deep journalism grounded in current research

The partnership between Globe Opinion and BU was designed to draw from the strengths of our two institutions, each of us committing two years of time, expertise, and resources to help lay the groundwork from which The Emancipator would grow. This helped the initiative to launch quickly, providing essential startup resources so that the editorial team could focus on incubating ideas and pursuing ambitious projects during critical moments in the national discourse on race.

While many non-profit newsrooms don’t make it, The Emancipator has thrived as its journalism and mission has resonated with local and national audiences. They have published hundreds of original pieces and welcomed thousands of readers online and at events, including a community celebration for Juneteenth in Boston and with prominent members of Congress, both virtual and live in Washington, D.C. They have cultivated a strong and dedicated newsletter following. Their thoughtful explainer videos have been shared widely across social media.

Having successfully completed our two-year partnership with BU in getting this newsroom launched, The Emancipator will transition to be fully integrated at Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research starting this week. The move to BU will streamline its operations and fundraising efforts and will unite the editorial team under one organization. During the transition, we will continue to publish The Emancipator on

The Emancipator’s Globe-based employees will be carrying forward with their roles as part of Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research.

Amber Payne, co-editor in chief, will transition into the role of Publisher and GM, shifting to focus on strategic operations and development. She will lead the search for The Emancipator’s next editor in chief. It has been inspiring to witness her leadership and creative vision and we wish her continued success in her new role.

Kimberly Atkins Stohr, who anchored the editorial team for The Emancipator and helped launch its newsletter, Unbound, will be dedicating 100% of her time to Globe Opinion. We congratulate her for the incredible work she produced with The Emancipator, particularly her powerful racial wealth gap series, and we look forward to seeing her column more frequently in the Globe.

We are proud of the role that The Boston Globe has played in launching and growing this innovative newsroom, and will continue to support their solutions-focused journalism and research. We expect to continue highlighting their work through op-eds and to serve as a media partner for future events.

So many of our colleagues across the company helped to launch this initiative, and we want to acknowledge and congratulate them on the success of The Emancipator.

  • Our Globe Opinion team provided support across the board, from editorial guidance, digital production, design, and operations. A special thanks to Marjorie PritchardKimberly Atkins StohrAbbi MathesonHeather Hopp-BruceAbi Canina, and former editorial page editor, Bina Venkataraman, who conceptualized and helped launch The Emancipator’s early framework and design.
  • Our IT, engineering, product and development teams helped build The Emancipator’s website and integrated their editorial teams on our publishing system, providing front and backend technical support. A special thanks to Abraham Doris-DownTodd DukartBriana BoyingtonLynda Finley and their teams.
  • Our legal, finance, and HR teams have supported the initiative from its earliest days, ensuring administrative and operational support to structure the team, onboard new employees, and manage resources and expenses. To Dan KrockmalnicKatie LazaresDhiraj NayarChris ZeienVinne FerlisiAlan Li – thank you.
  • Our marketing and creative teams have promoted The Emancipator brand across brands and our newsletters with unique print and digital ad campaigns. Thank you to Peggy ByrdErin Maghran and their team for supporting this initiative within the BGM family of products.
  • Our communications and PR teams developed strategies for announcing and launching editorial initiatives, securing interviews with national press. Together with our newsletter, social and audience engagement teams, we helped grow a tremendous following for The Emancipator’s work across multimedia channels. Thank you to Heidi FloodDevin SmithLaDonna LaGuerre and their teams for their support.
  • Our ad sales and events team helped secure one of The Emancipator’s first major event sponsors and has been working to provide the team with guidance to continue growing its sponsor networks. Huge thank you to Kayvan SalmanpourErin KimballKazi AhmedErika Hale and their teams.
  • The Globe’s newsroom has been incredibly supportive in providing access to its resources from photo to video to publishing support and more. Our journalists have championed The Emancipator’s work within their own initiatives, including A Beautiful Resistance and Black News Hour. Thank you to Jeneé Osterheldt for providing counsel and ideation and to Jason Tuohey, our homepage team, and so many across the newsroom for your ongoing support.

We are grateful to our partners at Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research for incubating this project with us. Congratulations to everyone involved in this impactful new initiative, and we look forward to seeing The Emancipator continue to grow.

The Emancipator makes its welcome, long-anticipated debut

The Emancipator, long in the making, has gotten past the soft-launch stage and made its formal debut this week. Aimed at covering the Black experience from an antiracist point of view, the site is vibrant and colorful. It looks great on mobile, and features videos (including one by Black activist and filmmaker Bree Newsome Bass, above) and comics alongside serious essays and reported pieces.

The Emancipator is a joint venture of The Boston Globe’s opinion operation and the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University. Northeastern journalism students are involved as well. There’s no paywall.

The point of the project is to provide national coverage of the country’s reckoning with systemic racism. Starting with the police murder of George Floyd and the police killing of Breonna Taylor in 2020, race has moved to the center of the national conversation in a way that it had not since the 1960s. Tragically, the moment we’re in right now feels more like the backlash than it does forward progress. The introduction puts it this way:

Just as 19th-century antislavery publications reframed and amplified the quest for abolition, The Emancipator centers critical voices, debates, and evidence-based opinion to reframe the national conversation on racial equity and hasten a more racially just society.

We put journalists, scholars, and community members into conversation, showcasing missing and underamplified voices — past and present — and demonstrating how they reveal the way forward.

The founders are former Globe editorial page editor Bina Venkataramin and BU’s Ibram X. Kendi, the author of “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” winner of the National Book Award. The co-editors are Deborah D. Douglas and Amber Payne. Among the more recognizable bylines is that of Globe columnist Kimberly Atkins Stohr, and the star-studded advisory board includes the ubiquitous Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the 1619 Project.

One interesting style note: News organizations have been reaching different conclusions during the past several years over whether they should uppercase “Black.” The Emancipator is going with uppercase “Black” and “White,” which, for what it’s worth, is what The Washington Post is doing as well. The Globe, The New York Times and The Associated Press have all opted for uppercase “Black” and lowercase “white.”

A year ago, when The Emancipator was announced, there were some hard feelings at The Bay State Banner, which has been covering the Black community in Greater Boston since 1965. (Northeastern students also contribute to the Banner through The Scope, our digital social-justice publication.) I don’t really see a conflict, though. The Banner continues to do a great job of covering local issues, while The Emancipator is national in scope and opinion-based. There’s room for both — and for more. Banner founder Melvin Miller, I should note, will receive a long-overdue Yankee Quill Award this Friday.

The Emancipator is an important project and a welcome new voice. I’ve signed up for “Unbound,” the site’s newsletter, and I’m interested to see how the project develops.

From Northeastern to the North Country: Em Cassel’s entrepreneurial journey

Em Cassel

Em Cassel is editor and co-owner of Racket, a reader-funded website covering politics, music, arts and culture in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. (She was also a student in my digital journalism course at Northeastern University.)

Em made a name for herself as food editor, managing editor and editor-in-chief of City Pages in the Twin Cities. She was the first woman editor in the 41-year history of that publication. City Pages, which was bought by the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2015, was shut down in late 2020. The company said it wasn’t economically viable, citing the pandemic. Em provides some inside scoop about that, and talks about the founding of Racket, which proudly claims on its website that it has “no bosses, some biases.”

I’ve got a Quick Take on the Montclair Local, a nonprofit weekly newspaper launched several years ago in New Jersey. The Local is well-funded and supported by a number of New York media types who live in Montclair. But what about less affluent areas?

My co-host, Ellen Clegg, reports on an effort to shut down an entire town that was uncovered by the Tennessee Lookout, part of the rapidly expanding nonprofit network called States Newsroom. The Lookout’s scoop was highlighted in the newsletter of The Emancipator, a re-imagined update on the nation’s first abolitionist newspaper for the digital age that is being launched soon.

You can listen to our conversation here and subscribe through your favorite podcast app.

Bina Venkataraman to step down as the Globe’s editorial page editor

Bina Venkataraman. Photo (cc) 2019 by TED Conference.

Less that two weeks after sending out a memo to her staff looking ahead to the new year, Boston Globe editorial page editor Bina Venkataraman has announced that she’s leaving. She posted a thread on Twitter within the past hour that begins:

Her departure isn’t entirely unexpected, as she took a leave of absence during the fall in the midst of the Boston mayoral campaign. Nevertheless, it’s stunning that her tenure lasted such a short time. It’s also at least a temporary setback for the Globe’s efforts to diversify; having a woman of color as one of the top two journalists (along with editor Brian McGrory) reporting to Linda and John Henry sent a powerful signal.

Venkataraman isn’t leaving completely. She’ll remain as an editor-at-large, which she says will involve writing for the Globe and advising The Emancipator, a racial justice digital publication that the paper is launching in collaboration with Boston University.

Unlike the news side, where McGrory has been a fixture since 2012 (he actually helped recruit Henry to buy the Globe from the New York Times Co.), the opinion side has been in flux for a long time. Ellen Clegg replaced Peter Canellos as editorial page editor in 2014, less than a year after Henry completed his purchase. Clegg served until her retirement in 2018, followed by business columnist Shirley Leung on an interim basis. Venkataraman arrived in 2019. (Clegg and I are now research and podcast partners.)

Venkataraman was an unconventional hire — a science journalist and author who didn’t come from the politics and policy side where most opinion editors cut their teeth. It will be interesting to see what direction the Globe heads in next.

Globe editorial page editor outlines 2021 highlights in end-of-year memo

Bina Venkataraman. Photo (cc) 2019 by TED Conference.

On Thursday a trusted source sent me an internal memo from Boston Globe editorial page editor Bina Venkataraman offering her take on the opinion section’s accomplishments in 2021. (Thanks, source!)

Probably the newsiest part of the memo is that The Emancipator, a racial justice collaborative involving the Globe and Boston University that’s been slow to get off the ground, is ramping up and “will begin publishing regularly” in the near future. Venkataraman also takes note of the paper’s 2020 editorials on housing in Newton, which won a Pulitzer finalist nod.

Her full memo follows.

Dear BGMP colleagues,

It’s a delight to be able to share with you some updates from the Globe Opinion team as we near the end of the year.

Thanks to our leadership, the company has made significant investments in growing and diversifying the Opinion team and the editorial board since 2019, helping us launch a pioneering partnership with Boston University, and allowing us to to do truly digital-first, innovative projects like our endorsement of Joe Biden and our editorial series Future-proofing the Presidency. This has raised the profile of our work nationally, where Globe Opinion content and voices are often featured in major broadcast venues, and has deepened our connection with local and regional communities. The growth has also allowed us to have a closer eye on and hold accountable the institutions and political leaders in Greater Boston and New England responsible for serving the public interest.

2021 has been busy and productive in Opinion and Ideas. Here are a few of the highlights that made our year extraordinary:

*Editorial board meetings with mayoral and municipal election candidates across Greater Boston, which culminated in our publishing a spate of endorsements.

*A significant and innovative project, the aforementioned  “Future-proofing the Presidency,” extensively covered in national broadcast media, influenced proposed Congressional reforms.

*Our ongoing op-ed series on longevity, in collaboration with MIT’s AgeLab, which sparked a conversation about Boston’s role as a city for innovation in aging.

*A Pulitizer finalist nod for our 2020 series on a Newton housing battle and housing choice reform.

*The launch of a hot new Ideas newsletter that already has thousands of subscribers and is engaging readers and driving them back to our section.

*The announcement of a new non-profit publication, The Emancipator, our groundbreaking collaboration with BU to reimagine 19th-century abolitionist newspapers for today’s conversation on racial justice. We started with the hiring of a great editor-in-chief and the launch of the Unbound newsletter.

*Globe Letters packages featuring our readers’ voices on the major issues of the day, from geoengineering to Mass. & Cass to Thanksgiving-season gratitude.

*Our popular Op-Talk event series and Now What? (formerly known as Don’t Look Back) newsletter, which offer new entry points to our journalism and expand our reach.

*Ideas features on artificial intelligence, race and mobility, the future of work, and urban schools led the conversation online and in the community.

* Columnists’ ongoing smart takes on pressing local, regional, and national topics — often featured in local events and on national broadcast, raising the profile of Globe Opinion.

*A new social media strategy featuring different voices of our editorial board and innovations such as  Instagram cards and reels, that has significantly grown our online audience and presence.

*Expert opinions weighing in on the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow and the threats to America’s democracy via the war on voting rights.

Looking ahead, The Emancipator will begin publishing regularly under the leadership of its co-editors in chief, Amber Payne and Deborah Douglas, while growing their editorial team and launching a new Web presence. Ideas will be publishing an exciting package on reenvisioning the US Constitution on the anniversary of the Bill of Rights. Our pandemic and political coverage will continue in editorials and op-eds, with a special focus on the gubernatorial election. Globe Opinion also aims to look back at some of the Globe’s coverage of communities of color to reckon with the past as the paper celebrates its 150th birthday. Watch for new ways we’ll engage with letter writers, more point/counterpoint op-eds, further experiments with our social media presence, and new deep dives in Sunday Ideas.

We’re always eager to find new ways to showcase evidence-based opinion and break through polarized, simplistic debates with original, reported, and nuanced perspectives. We welcome your ideas as we scan the horizon and are grateful to collaborate with our colleagues across BGMP on many of these efforts. Let us know if you see a way we might conspire in the new year!

All the best,


Bina Venkataraman
Editorial Page Editor
The Boston Globe

Black newspapers across the country collaborate via Word In Black

The trade magazine Editor & Publisher reports that 10 Black newspapers have created a network to provide news in communities of color across the country. The Effort, called Word In Black, is part of the Fund for Black Journalism, which was launched a year ago by the Local Media Association, according to E&P’s Evelyn Mateos.

Word In Black, she adds, “covers racial equity, K-12 education, police reform, healthcare disparities, social justice, politics, opinion, sports and LGBTQ.” Nick Charles, who’s heading up the project, tells Mateos:

[These] 10 different publishers sometimes have different mindsets, different politics, and they live in different parts of the country. So, people in Texas don’t have the same ideas about a lot of things that people in New York may have. But their affection and love for communities are what binds them. Collaboration is going on because people realize that to survive and to meet our mission as journalists, we have to band together.

The papers range from New York to Sacramento, but nothing locally. It would be great to see The Bay State Banner become part of this. It would also be interesting to see if The Emancipator, a nationally focused website sponsored by The Boston Globe and BU’s Center for Antiracist Research, could find a way to collaborate.

Ibram X. Kendi on race, antiracism and the problem with assimilationists

Ibram X. Kendi. Photo (cc) 2017 by the American Association of University Professors.

Later this year The Boston Globe plans to launch a racial-justice website called The Emancipator, overseen by Globe editorial page editor Bina Venkataraman and Ibram X. Kendi, who runs the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University. Because I wanted to become more familiar with Kendi’s thinking, I spent several months listening to the audio version of “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.”

Definitive is a good description — 19 hours’ worth. (The hardcover version is nearly 600 pages long.) Kendi traces 500 years of racist thought, from the early Portuguese explorers up to the dawn of the Trump era. Published in 2016, “Stamped” won a National Book Award.

Kendi’s scholarship is daunting, and the audio version probably isn’t the best way to take it all in. His organizational scheme is to tell the history of racism in America through the lives of five key figures — Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. DuBois and Angela Davis. Mather and Jefferson are the hypocritical white semi-liberals of their day. Garrison, in Kendi’s view, failed to overcome his own racist ideas despite fighting passionately against slavery. DuBois moved beyond the racist stereotypes that hampered his early writing to emerge in his later years as a true antiracist.

Davis is the most problematic of Kendi’s five. I don’t think he quite succeeds in establishing that the full breadth of her career ranks with those of the other four. Despite his best efforts, Davis comes across as someone whose significance waned over the decades following her days as an iconic revolutionary in the early 1970s.

In addition to the five people he places at the center of his narrative, Kendi builds his argument around two big ideas. The first is that there are two types of racists, white supremacists and what he calls “assimilationists.” Posited against these two groups are antiracists. So who are the assimilationists? Essentially they are well-meaning liberals who believe that the route to Black advancement is through betterment, education and becoming more like white people. (As Kendi notes, this view depends on ignoring the reality that white people are no more immune from the effects of poverty and other social ills than Black people or any other racial group.)

The assimilationist camp is a large one. Kendi says he was among that group early in his career, as is former President Barack Obama. In listening to “Stamped,” I concluded that I would have to place myself within the assimilationist group as well; I also concluded that not all assimilationist ideas are bad, though we would do well to ask ourselves where those ideas come from and why we hold them.

Kendi’s second big idea is to redefine racism as effect rather than as cause. It’s an idea he explores at length in a recent podcast with Ezra Klein. I recommend you give it a listen, as it serves as an excellent introduction to Kendi’s work. To understand Kendi’s argument, consider his take on theories of Black inferiority and their relationship to slavery. What most of us were taught is that slaveholders justified their evil practice because of false notions that Black people were not as intelligent as whites. Kendi says we have it exactly backwards — that slavery came first, and the theories of Black inferiority were developed after the fact as a way of maintaining slavery.

What does this look like in practice? Consider same-sex marriage. Many LGBTQ activists believed that overcoming hostility to homosexuality was crucial to building support for marriage equality. But as Kendi would have it, the Supreme Court’s legalizing of same-sex marriage resulted in a rapid decline in hostility to LGBTQ people. In other words, ideas follow actions rather than the reverse.

Finally, a word about audiobooks: You don’t have to buy them from Audible, which is now part of the Amazon empire. I buy them from, which sends some of the revenues I give them to An Unlikely Story, my favorite independent bookstore. If you like audiobooks, I hope you’ll give Libro a try.

This post was part of last week’s newsletter for Media Nation members. If you’d like to sign up for the newsletter for just $5 a month, please click here.

Amber Payne of BET Digital named co-editor of The Emancipator

The Boston Globe has named an editor-in-chief for The Emancipator, the much-anticipated racial-justice website it is launching in collaboration with Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research.

Amber Payne, a veteran journalist who recently finished a Nieman fellowship at Harvard, will spend the next several months “putting together an editorial plan and team for The Emancipator and launching it alongside her counterpart at BU’s Center for Antiracist Research,” according to an email to the Globe staff from editorial-page editor Bina Venkataraman, co-founder of The Emancipator.

The BU editor-in-chief has not been named yet, Venkataraman added. The other co-founder is Ibram X. Kendi, who directs the BU antiracism center.

What follows is Venkataraman’s full email (except for some personal information that I deleted), which I obtained from a trusted source:

Dear all,

It’s my pleasure to announce that Amber Payne joins the Globe today as the Editor in Chief of The Emancipator. Amber is an extraordinary person whose career in journalism has spanned broadcast, print, and digital.

Until recently, Amber was an executive producer at BET Digital, where she oversaw daily editorial and long form video content for Previously, she served as executive producer of Teen Vogue and them., a vertical focused on LGBTQ+ stories. Payne also founded and launched’s NBCBLK, a media vertical on Black identity, and worked on breaking news and features as an award-winning producer for “NBC Nightly News.” Her repertoire is vast and varied; she’s edited a multimedia story on an Alabama landfill that became a civil rights battleground, produced the feature-length documentary “Harlem Rising,” and made an engaging interactive on the sexist, racist history of the high school prom. She has covered stories throughout the U.S., Ecuador, and in parts of West and South Africa, including Nelson Mandela’s funeral, the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the Vancouver Olympics, and Hurricane Katrina recovery.

Amber is fresh out of the Nieman fellowship where she has spent the past year deeply studying the history and present of race in America, examining how people from marginalized communities can share stories in ways that resonate across races, faiths, and cultures….

Over the coming months, Amber will be putting together an editorial plan and team for The Emancipator and launching it alongside her counterpart at BU’s Center for Antiracist Research (who is still to be named). She’s also eager to speak with many of you about your ideas for The Emancipator, to conspire with various teams at BGMP, and to find ways to showcase Globe journalists and their work through its channels.

Talking to Amber is fascinating and fun, and once you meet her, I think you’ll find that she’s just the person to take the helm of this historic and forward-looking publication at this moment.  Please give her a warm welcome to the Globe and join me in cheering her on!

(You can follow her on Twitter @amberwaves)


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