The Root Publisher Announces Strategic Innovation Lead : Pioneers in Online Media Donna Byrd and Omar Wasow Team Up to Redefine Black Media

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The Root, an online magazine featuring perspectives from prominent and emerging black thought leaders, today announced that Omar Wasow will be the site’s Product Strategist, joining recently named Publisher Donna Byrd. Veterans of Black America Web and BlackPlanet, Byrd and Wasow hope to combine their skills to make The Root a smart, savvy hub of thoughtful news and commentary for the post-Civil Rights generation.

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I am thrilled that we now have Omar, who is one of the most talented minds in the Internet space. His creativity and vision on the Web is critical to our mission of being not only a leader in black-focused commentary but also among the most forward-thinking in innovation on the Web.

Byrd is former CEO of BlackAmericaWeb.com, where she was instrumental in launching one of the first leading African-American news and lifestyle websites. She developed marketing and sales strategy for The Coca-Cola Company and Procter and Gamble before co-founding Kickoff Marketing, a strategic planning and brand firm. Since joining The Root, Byrd has leveraged her expertise and background in marketing, business planning and digital innovation to grow the fledgling site.

Byrd says her vision is for The Root to introduce up and coming black thought leaders, engage a community of forward thinkers in both serious and lively debate, and to showcase the diversity of viewpoints currently shaping the black experience.

"To me, The Root fills a void in African-American media. In an environment where most major Web sites aimed at black audiences offer primarily entertainment news, The Root offers a deeper, more meaningful discourse on issues of importance to black people. We provide a platform for smart discussion and debate," said Byrd. "I am thrilled that we now have Omar, who is one of the most talented minds in the Internet space. His creativity and vision on the Web is critical to our mission of being not only a leader in black-focused commentary but also among the most forward-thinking in innovation on the Web."

Wasow joins The Root as Product Strategist, focusing on creating cutting edge features and community-building tools. He co-founded BlackPlanet, the largest social networking site for African Americans, which, under Wasow's leadership, received over 3 million users per month. Wasow's reputation for being a visionary and demystifying technology issues has landed him regular appearances on NBC's Today Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

"Both Donna and Omar have been vital toward the growth and landscape of African-Americans on the Web, and they are joining an already stellar editorial team led by Lynette Clemetson. The Root is all about bringing together pioneering thinkers who are talented and savvy, and Donna and Omar's involvement comes at the critical time, when The Root is emerging as a leader in political and cultural analysis of post-Civil Rights thought," said Henry Louis Gates Jr., Editor-in-Chief of The Root.

Since launching late January 2008, The Root has attracted well-established voices such as Alice Walker, Charlayne Hunter Gault and Michael Eric Dyson as well as emerging black thinkers including scholars Melissa Harris-Lacewell and Marc Lamont Hill and trendsetters like "Eco-Soul Kitchen" columnist and chef Bryant Terry. Former Lt. Governor Michael Steele will also have a regular column on the site. Steele is the first African-American to serve in a Maryland statewide office and the first Republican lieutenant governor in the state.

Byrd and Wasow are the newest members of the managerial team, which includes Gates, Managing Editor Lynette Clemetson and Deputy Editor Terence Samuel. Wasow is pursuing a doctorate in African American studies and political science at Harvard, and is currently based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

About TheRoot.com

The Root is a daily online magazine that targets the post-Civil Rights Generation with original, provocative commentary and analysis on politics, social issues and culture from a variety of perspectives. Dedicated to increasing the breadth and depth of black voices engaged in debate about the most important issues of the day, The Root is built on the strength of a robust and diverse group of contributors, and has an editorial sensibility that reflects the confidence and divergent world views of its audience.

TheRoot.com is owned by The Slate Group, an online publishing subsidiary of The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO) and can be found on the Web at http://www.theroot.com.

MULTIMEDIA GALLERY http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=5724519

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