Dominion of New York was born in the heart of our founder Kelly Virella 10 years ago, when she was starting her first full-time newspaper journalism job. The people who worked there treated her well and taught her a lot. But the newspaper — like so many newspapers — seemed to love to publish mugshots of black suspects and the one-sided accounts of their alleged crimes furnished by police. When Kelly challenged that practice, her editors defended it and she started to see that the newspaper didn’t value its black readers.
For Kelly, that discovery was a problem. She had become a journalist primarily to serve her community. So she decided that if she were to truly live in harmony with her purpose, she’d have to work at a publication that treasured its black readers or better yet, start one.
Quitting the newspaper after her first year, she took jobs at progressive magazines to learn the business. Within two years, she became a capable journalist and within 5 years, she became an award-winning one at the highest levels of American journalism. Throughout that time, she imagined her ideal publication. She dreamed of a magazine that was cerebral but fun and loud, of a magazine that respected and appealed to the intellectual faculties of black people, without taking itself too seriously. She wanted to create something that saw the ordinary human triumphs and challenges of black people as worthy of lavish attention and 10,000 words. She wanted it to be a work of history and a work of art.
Eventually, she met and married someone who saw her vision and wanted to support it. After 10 years of training, and saving whatever she could with her husband’s help, Kelly took a leap of faith, quit her job, and started building Dominion of New York July 15.
DoNY (our abbreviation, pronounced D00 Nu York) is the only urban focused online magazine founded by an award-winning magazine writer. We’re based in New York and took our name from the hip-hop refrain “We run New York,” which symbolizes the aspirations of the hip-hop generation for freedom and power. Because we have attracted a loyal and racially diverse audience, we’ve broadened our focus to include them too.
We are only 9-months-old but growing fast and gaining recognition from more established news organizations and advertisers. In February we sold our first advertising — to BMW — and signed a contract to partner with a large, respected news organization. We’ve been cited by The Atlantic, Forbes, Huffington Post, ProPublica, Mother Jones and thousands more. Another established news organization, The Awl — America’s largest online only literary journalism magazine — just named us one of its favorite online magazines and predicted that we’ll be a big success.
We’re still in our infancy stage. But your readership is a strong testament of our potential to become a mature, thoughtful, articulator of not just Kelly’s passion, but yours.