Launched in July, urban247.com is a Web site for folks who like their news and culture reports with a, shall we say, darker point of view.
"This is a concept we had, actually, for about a year, and we didn't know what shape it was gonna take," says Vonn Butler, president of the Houston-based advertising and marketing company Volume Media, which creates the weekly "electronic newsletter for the urbane mindset." "In about a year's time," Butler says, "we formulated" the concept "and really researched and developed a niche that is what it is today, and it's ever-growing and maturing."
Volume Media staffers and freelancers provide the site's editorial content. Vice President Andrew Malveaux, who oversaw last year's African-American Arts Festival at Project Row Houses, says that contributors are open to write about anything prevalent in black culture, especially if it's something that could trigger a passionate dialogue. "Since our readers are young professional African-Americans who are making an impact on their job places and in their community," says Malveaux, "urban247 wants to be able to facilitate stimulating conversation that's gonna take their thought process a step forward."
It appears to be working. "One article we did was about the "color thing' -- light-skinned black people versus dark-skinned black people," remembers creative director and Webmaster Marc Newsome. "We got a lot of feedback about that."
Urban247.com is free, yet it's not necessarily for everyone. To get past the main splash page, you first have to log on and leave your e-mail address. When the site gets updated at the end of the week, the company sends you a reminder, along with the addresses granting access. This is Volume Media's way of knowing that its Web site is going to the right people. "We want more proactive people to subscribe to urban247.com," says Newsome. "We want people to walk away thinking."