In some ways, life at Very Smart Brothas
is broadly the same as it was before the Pittsburgh/Washington, D.C.-based blog was acquired by Gizmodo Media Group, on June 30. Contributors including co-founders Damon Young and Panama Jackson still turn out acerbic commentaries on African-American culture and politics with titles like “The 10 Best Places for Black People to Escape White People When We Just Don’t Wanna See Them for a While, Ranked
” and “White Supremacy Is the Opioid That’s Destroying America.”
But about 10 days after all VSB’s new content became a vertical under The Root
, things are also kind of different — and, mostly, better, says Young. For one, VSB — which already had two million unique visitors a month, with comments for some individual posts numbering in the thousands — is getting even more eyeballs.
“Our traffic has definitely gone up already,” VSB editor-in-chief Young told CP
yesterday. That’s not unexpected when you’ve suddenly become part of the Univision
empire. But still, having what might have been your best traffic week ever is cause for celebration.
Other benefits for what had been for the past nine years basically a two-person operation include having proofreaders, and people to handle social media. And while VSB is not officially 100 percent autonomous any more, says Young, so far its Gizmodo editor has let its contributors do what they want.
“The trade-off has definitely been worth it,” says Young. Now, he says, VSB can focus on being creative, and can even get the resources for things like the occasional video feature. “If anything, this will allow us to be even more us,” he says.
That would seem to be a good thing for Young, 38, who with the Gizmodo move (if not before) is surely among the mostly widely read writers based in Pittsburgh. The North Side resident’s ventures also include a column for GQ
, for whom he has written on topics including politics and Kyrie Irving
— though he’s cut back a bit lately, for obvious reasons.
Young, however, hasn’t had that option of slowing down work on his first book. A draft of the essay collection is due to his editor at Ecco in September, he says, and he’s still got a few more pieces to complete.
While the book (working title: N*gga Neurosis
) will cover themes familiar to VSB readers, it will also incorporate “a bit of memoir,” he says. Of the tone of this new material, he adds, “Imagine if David Sedaris was a 38-year old black man from Pittsburgh, and straight.”
A release is planned in fall of 2018.