Nieman Foundation at Harvard
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March 22, 2023, 2:05 p.m.
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Sarah Scire   |   March 22, 2023

The Emancipator launched in 2021 with lofty goals (to reframe a national conversation in order to “hasten racial justice”), an impressive list of supporters (its original advisory board included Joy Reid, Eddie Glaude, Sewell Chan, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Jelani Cobb, and Annette Gordon-Reed, among others), and two major Boston institutions behind it.

Now, after two years, one of those institutions is stepping back.

The Boston Globe is ending its official involvement with the digital publication. The Emancipator, which is named after a legendary abolitionist newspaper, will continue its work with the other founding partner, Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research. (There’s already an open Emancipator digital producer listing up at the university.)

“Over the last two years, the Globe provided essential media start-up resources to develop and launch a digital newsroom in a short span of time,” Boston Globe spokesperson Heidi Flood said in an email. “We’ve successfully built a foundation for The Emancipator to regularly publish its content, newsletter, and to continue growing its reader base and social media presence.”

As a nonprofit newsroom, The Emancipator will operate independently within BU. Globe columnist Kimberly Atkins Stohr — who had served as The Emancipator’s lead writer while contributing to the Globe’s opinion section — will stay with the paper while Amber Payne, co-editor-in-chief, will transition into the role of publisher and general manager for The Emancipator. (The other co-editor-in-chief, Deborah Douglas, was named director of Medill’s Midwest Solutions Journalism Hub in January.) Payne will focus on “strategic operations and development,” according to an internal email, and lead the search for the outlet’s next editor-in-chief. Another full-time employee and an audience engagement intern will also transition from the Globe to BU.

Payne, who joined The Emancipator after a year here at Harvard as a Nieman Fellow, told me the publication always knew it had a two-year runway under the current arrangement. After that time, Boston University and the Globe could renew or one institution could take on the project by itself. Payne said the shift to BU will allow The Emancipator to “streamline” its fundraising efforts and operations.

The Emancipator launched with coverage on the racial wealth gap, anchored by reporting by from Stohr. Another flagship series has been #TheTalk, which covers “what we tell our children and ourselves about being safe and sound in the world.” (Here’s one video commentary — a white mother talking to her sons about white nationalist content in their social feeds — that stands out to Payne.)

So far this year, The Emancipator has published 18 pieces, including four videos. Recent articles include an opinion piece arguing “parents rights” are a red herring, a reported piece about the fate of the Nashville building where historic counter-protests took place, and an article by a professor and leader at Boston University Center for Antiracist Research outlining an eponymous test to help audiences determine if the movie they are watching is antiracist or not.

Until the transition is finalized and a new homepage is launched, you can read The Emancipator’s work over at the Globe.

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