Ariam Alula (how to say it) brings a range of skills and interests to URL Media, including newsletter curation, audience strategy and research, and measuring and tracking impact. Most recently, she has consulted with several organizations in the journalism support space, including the Institute for Nonprofit News, the Public Square Team at Democracy Fund, Online News Association and Women Do News. She has also written for the American Press Institute’s Need to Know newsletter.
Alula is also a proud graduate of the engagement journalism program at the Craig Newmark Journalism School at the City University of New York.
Alula is excited to lead social and newsletter content at URL Media, further develop and execute the network’s strategic goals and tell the story of URL Media and its partners.
Welcome! What’s your superpower?
I can make any place feel like home. What makes me call a place home is my enthusiasm for returning to it. My favorite homes include Parkchester in the Bronx, where I spent the first full nine years of my life, and the Lexington-bound six train, which shuttled me to and from high school in Lower Manhattan at Murry Bergtraum High School (aka Bergtraum) for four consecutive years. It was the only public school I attended where I started and finished with my peers — and the commute was grueling, but it taught me everything I needed to know about navigating the New York City transit system. It was probably the one time in my life where I had a cohesive group of friends (ironically from all five boroughs); those long train rides cemented a lot of friendships.
Home is also a person or people. For me, it's always been my immediate family which comprises workaholics, caregivers, freedom fighters, thinkers and avid spiced tea drinkers. Like many Eritreans, my family members are very spiritual, patriotic and down-to-earth.
You’ll be growing URL Media’s audience on its newsletter and social media channels. What does this mean?
I’m energized to help our team get crystal clear on who our current audience is and who we need them to be. This should always be the first step an organization takes when growing an audience and building its brand recognition from scratch. URL Media is a truly one-of-a-kind company because there is no other news network or collaborative in the nation with our mission and message, and that mission is simply to get more money and reach in the hands of Black and Brown news publishers.
A significant part of my job will involve telling our network’s story and that of our partners to the world. We’re also a startup with a shared power model that’s never been done before, so we’re all learning, building and iterating as we go along.
I’m invested in helping our audience understand how issues in their backyard affect other communities in similar or different ways. It’s also important to me that our multicultural, multidisciplinary and geographically-diverse audiences see their communities, customs and cultural norms fully represented and affirmed by our network.
To recycle a line from our co-founders that drives home this point: “We see wealth and wealth creation as a means to empower and reinvest in Black and Brown communities.” This job is well worth my time and effort to see us follow through with this mission.
What are you proudest of in your career so far?
Being a graduate of the social journalism program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism (technically, I began matriculation prior to the institution’s name change from CUNY J-School to Newmark Journalism School in 2018 — and I have my shirt and mug from orientation week to prove it, so I can call it that!). That experience gave me the confidence to step out on the industry scene and essentially say to everyone, “Hey, I don’t care to be a reporter, but I can do a bunch of other cool (and necessary) things for your news team, so let’s work together!”
Since entering the workforce, some of my proudest moments have been walking away from employers and contracts that didn’t feel like home. I now know that if you’re smart, creative and not afraid to take risks you can always find home elsewhere.
What piece of your identity do you bring to URL Media?
My love for community. Like many children of immigrants, I grew up in an environment with a lot of social capital. I have studied the way my family and our community worship, organize, travel, dance, migrate, celebrate, mourn and share information. Witnessing this in the diaspora by default has shaped me to be this translator of cultures and homes. I also have the privilege of witnessing the inevitable growing pains of a young (to the world) nation who must contend with telling their country’s story when the media can’t adequately do so. Being a first-generation American has informed how I adopt, frame and embody the retelling of different stories.
With respect to BIPOC-owned and -centered news outlets, how do we embrace our unique lived experiences and scholarly expertise in the diaspora while also giving way to embrace the parts of us that make us human?