BET's Portal Plans  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  The Beat
From AJR,   October 1999

BET's Portal Plans   

BET Holdings Inc., owner of cable's Black Entertainment Television, gears up for the launch of its new Web site and taps one of the Washington Post's online editors to direct its content.

By Carol Guensburg & Lori Robertson
Carol Guensburg (carol.guensburg@verizon.net) is senior editor for the Journalism Center on Children & Families, a University of Maryland professional program - and a nonprofit. It receives primary support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Guensburg spent 14 years as an editor and reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after working for three other papers.      Lori Robertson (robertson.lori@gmail.com), a former AJR managing editor, is a senior contributing writer for the magazine.      



BET Holdings Inc., owner of cable's Black Entertainment Television , gears up for the launch of its new Web site, and taps one of the Washington Post 's online editors to direct its content. "I've long wanted to get into the African American info space," says Retha Hill , now vice president, content, of BET's African American portal venture. Hill spent the last four-and-a-half years with washingtonpost.com , most recently as executive producer for consumer guides, and had joined the print edition staff as a reporter in 1987. According to technology analysts Forrester Research Inc., 23 percent of black households are now online, but that number will increase to 40 percent by 2000. Says Hill, who is African American, "We're late to the party, but we're coming in a huge rush to catch up." BET.com, to premiere November 1, will feature various content channels, e-mail and instant messaging, chat rooms and an extensive e-commerce section. Hill, also chairwoman of the National Association of Black Journalists' new- media task force, has come to enjoy the online life a little better than the strictly print vein. "There's a lot of room for creativity, there's a lot of room for entrepreneurship," she says. "There's a lot of room for telling the story and getting information to people in a new way."

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