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S. Mitra Kalita (L) and Sara Lomax-Reese. Photo: Courtesy of S. Mitra Kalita

Former CNN executive S. Mitra Kalita and Philadelphia radio executive Sara Lomax-Reese have launched a newsletter seeking to expand local news on Black and brown communities to national audiences.

Why it matters: Some ethnic newspapers and local news sites focusing on people of color have suffered in recent years. The URL Media newsletter wants to bring their unique content together to attract big advertisers and facilitate underreported news.

Details: URL, which stands for Uplift, Respect and Love, has signed eight media partners, including the Brooklyn-based Haitian Times and Durham, N.C.-based Scalawag.

  • Kalita says she is in talks with other public radio stations and nonprofit media outlets about joining to create a go-to place for news about Black, Latino and Asian American communities in various cities.
  • Kalita raised eyebrows last year when the outspoken diversity media advocate left her job as senior vice president at CNN Digital to start the newsletter Epicenter-NYC.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Sara Fischer: The newsletter business, like the rest of the media industry, has struggled to embrace diverse voices. This could be in part because independent newsletter writers typically need to take on at least some risk to financially support their careers.

  • Many of the independent writers who have flocked to Substack in the past year are white men writing about topic areas like technology, business or politics, where they can blend punditry and analysis with some original reporting.

What they're saying: “We must prioritize and support Black-owned media that has been doing this work for decades. … At this moment, radical change is required," Lomax-Reese, CEO of WURD Radio, wrote earlier this month.

  • She said continuing to pour money and resources into large white-owned/led media companies that target Black consumers, but don’t empower them, "is unacceptable.”

Between the lines: The new venture comes as legacy outlets, from the Washington Post to the Associated Press, face pressure from their own journalists of color to diversify staff and coverage.

  • Former Post reporter Wesley Lowery said journalists of color often face a backlash from their white managers for speaking out and see their social media accounts closely monitored.

The intrigue: The Los Angeles Times recently launched a newsletter aimed at Latinos called the Latinx Files after issuing an apology for failing to cover race fairly throughout its existence.

  • Last month, the Kansas City Star also apologized for a history of perpetuating stereotypes of Black Kansas residents and ignoring key moments of the Civil Rights Movement.

Go deeper

Jan 28, 2021 - Health

Fauci: COVID vaccine rollout needs to prioritize people of color

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci highlighted the need to address racial disparities in the COVID-19 vaccination process, per an interview with The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

What he’s saying: "I think that's the one thing we really got to be careful of. We don't want in the beginning ... most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people."

Updated 8 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 10 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.