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Tampa Bay Area Black Professionals Network Online



For a long time, she was the unofficial email connection for black professionals in the Tampa Bay area.

Got a community event you want to publicize? A charitable effort that needed attention? A discussion you wanted to start among black folsk of a certain station in town?

Public relations/marketing executive Carolyn Lighty was the person you would turn to, courtesy of an authoritative email list she'd amassed of thousands of professionals of color in the Tampa Bay area. She once used the list to publicize her regular series of mixers called a Taste of Sugar Hill; even when the mixers stopped, Lighty kept forwarding messages to her cyberspatial rolodex -- becoming an unofficial town crier for the area's black professionals.

But Lighty eventually decided she needed to turn her volunteer work -- which took more and more time -- into a business. So she teamed with minority recruitment consultant Teddy Pierre to create, an online resource planned as a cyberspatial hub for area African American, Hispanic and female professionals.

"A lot of people say there is no cohesive black community of professionals around here -- you look around, and where are they?" said Pierre. "But these people are often hidden in theor own isolated worlds -- and they just need a way to get together."

Surf to the TampaBayIn site, which launches today, and you'll see a wide array of categories for information -- with animated avatars at each page to explain the content and options available. Featuring forums for black people, Hispanics and women, the site offers listings for events around the area, business services, bulletin boards for electronic conversations, in-house columnists from the community and more.

Of course, organizers have aggressively targeted advertisers who may want to reach the community they hope to assemble. So there's lots of opportunities for business to place their logos and information throughout the site (somebody's got to pay for it all).

Pierre expects the success or failure of as an online community to answer one question which has vexed those of us who have been active in diversity issues locally: does the Tampa Bay area really care about diversity?

"Everybody talks about it," he said. "But if people don't latch onto this, I just don't think diversity is a priority for them."

CBS Discovers Media Platforms in a Big Way

When Katie Couric was first hired to take over the CBS Evening News, none other than former Today show co-host Deborah Norville told me the strategy she expected: ""Katie will be the brand of CBS News...You will see her face attached to every CBS product out there," said Norville, who was fired from Today in 1991. "Katie has 15 years of history with people...That's the power of celebrity."

During the TV Critics Press Tour Sunday, CBS proved the truth in that prediction, announcing a strategy for spreading Couric's reports across webcasts, blogs, radio and even cellphones that makes you tired just reading it.

A short list:

Daily Digital Reports -- Couric will host and sometimes conduct three to four-minute interviews made available on and to CBS Radio affiliates throughout the country.

Web-exclusive rundown -- Couric will give a quick rundown of the day's stories, viewable through and Verizon VCast. The day's show will also be available for viewing on the CBS website.

Katie Blogs! - They're the third network to get on this, finally -- NBC's evening news blog celebrated its one-year anniversary recently -- but Couric will also headline a blog offering some behind-the-scenes chatter and extra material similar to what the other guys are doing. They say they will encourage viewer comments here, but I wonder what will happen when they get their first deluge of "Katie-is-a-bleeding-heart-liberal" flak.

Katie Goes to Radio! -- the first segment of the evening news will be made available to CBS Radio affiliates throughout the country, and Couric will do "Katie Couric Reports" -- a one-minute look at a top story made available to radio stations, as an audio and video podcast , as on-demand video on and through Verizon VCast.

Which leaves me wondering: When's she going to find time to anchor the news? And when did developing the newscast of the future include such cutting-edge technology as a radio network?

And if you needed any further proof that Couric's highly-touted "listening tour" was a publicity tour in disguise, check out her evaluation of the viewer feedback she got, as reported by USA Today: "I got the distinct sense they want us to go a little bit deeper" with historical background and "how is this relevant to their lives. (And) we heard from many people the news is just too depressing. Obviously, we can't sugar-coat what's going on, but there are cases where we can be more solution-oriented."

Mmmm-hmmm. Well, that's not something anyone could have guessed while sitting in New York, to be sure.

Short Bits
-- My story about the local David taking on the TV ratings Goliath that is Nielsen Media Research -- St. Petersburg entrepreneur Frank Maggio -- runs today. He's got a TV channel debuting Aug. 1 backed by a ratings system he says can supplant Nielsen's. The biggest question hanging: Is this guy for real?

-- Bill Cosby is slated to headline a webcast forum Tuesday on black men
sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation, hosted by Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree and featuring everyone from Oakland's mayor-elect to the Washington Post reporters who helped assemble the newspaper's attention-getting "Being a Black Man" series.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:36pm]


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