One of the leading Black news publications in the United States, The African Times-USA made a major operational change last April when it commenced a weekly digital publication – www.theafricantimes.com – on an integrated website portal which intriguingly includes an e-commerce component.
Charles Anyiam, publisher and editor-in-chief of the publication and an alumnus of Nigerian journalism told NDUKA NWOSU in a chat from his Los Angeles office that the change was primarily necessitated by new market trends, readership appetite and range.
“After 31 years in the business of covering Africa and the Black World and bringing news and information about Africa to our US readership, it became imperative to carve a niche for our brand in the fast-evolving world of digital journalism”, Anyiam said. He continued: “This is to expose us to an entirely new generation of readers while consolidating our traditional base.” As part of the growth process, The African Times-USA is simultaneously expanding its periodical: Africa Quarterly – which will be published in print four times a year to accommodate certain subjects that will need to be dealt with in-depth, he also said.
On the weekly website portal: www.theafricantimes.com – The African Times-USA will focus on exclusive news analysis, features and commentaries on Pan-African issues encompassing the 54 African countries, the African American, the Caribbean, the Afro-Latina, the Afro-Portuguese, the Afro-European and wherever people of African descent are domiciled.
“We have also initiated an e-commerce section – AFRICA SHOPPING MART – to drive the AFRICA, INC. (the Business page) column of the www.theafricantimes.com portal. Teaming up with Amazon and other retail chains such as the largest distributor of South African wines in the United States, Southern Wines, to offer home-delivered African and Caribbean food, beverages and beauty products, and Black books and literature to online shoppers within North America.
“Germane to this idea is the initiative to stimulate international interests in Pan African products, support local businesses in these countries and provide service to teeming population of people of African descent in North America, and the Afrophile.
“Contents on the www.theafricantimes.com also include columns such as FYI where you have answers to questions about Pan African issues, Links to various international news websites, the WEEKLY NEWS BRIEFS, and the ARCHIVES where readers can reference past copies of the print edition of The African Times-USA.”
To reinforce its presence on the digital space, www.theafricantimes.com has footprints on Facebook (@theafricantimesusa), Instagram (theafricantimesusa) and Twitter (@africantimesusa). According to the publisher, plans are underway to leverage the internet into foraying into the area of broadcast and television journalism.
“We are currently working with our technical and production team on a plan to be activated on various platforms to promote the Pan African story, lifestyle and peoples to the rest of the world. The African Times-USA will therefore join the growing army of communicators who are now telling the story of our people because if we do not, others will tell our story, most times in the way that has always done injustice to us whether about us in Africa, the Caribbean in the Americas or Europe.”
On editorial team of The African Times-USA are seasoned journalists and communicators from across the globe. In one of the many ground-breaking pieces recently published on this portal is a follow-up story to an investigating masterpiece by Ben Edokpayi, a product of the Dele Giwa journalism school of thought published 30 years ago in the now defunct Newswatch news magazine. Currently a senior contributing editor with The African Times-USA, and an original member of the publication, Ben’s follow up piece was the result of an innocuous email from an Italian parliamentarian referencing the story about the scandalous toxic waste dumping in Africa involving a number of multi-nationals which was to catch the attention of major US publications.
Like the iconic Dele Giwa, an ace Nigerian journalist who was killed by a parcel bomb, Anyiam is also a motivator who is hard-charging – he continually drives his editorial team and the technical staff to strive to make The African Times-USA one of the best storytellers and communicators in the business in the tradition of its print version and more importantly as a bridge between the investor and his preferred destination in black territories.
The global reach of the magazine is given since it has been around and is only re-loading to capture more audience encompassing the black community. All the issues pertaining to them would be addressed in the portal by way of investigative stories, Anyiam said.
“We launched www.theafricantimes.com last April as the new flagship of The African Times Publications, Inc. after resting the bi-weekly news journal,” he clarified.
“For example, in the maiden edition www.theafricantimes.com carried an in-depth story of the turbulent racial politics in Brazil in which we exposed how white politicians ran for elected offices as Blacks in predominantly black communities such as in Sao Paulo! And in the AFRICA THOUGHT column,’ which is an interactive section where each week, “we feature topical issues that demand your thoughts, inputs, comments, and reactions. We encourage readers to share their comments on the thought angles that we carry in this column.”
On the overall, www.theafricantimes.com the new flagship of The African Times-USA is an enigmatic addition to the burgeoning media that serve the world with African news and information. Anyiam believes that what differentiates www.theafricantimes.com and the rest is its unmistakable Pan African content and reach.
“In the midst of it all, we serve the Pan African community as a matter of policy because we agree with the late Jamaican reggae star Peter Tosh, who in one of his songs, which almost became a black anthem, proudly and unequivocally stated: “no matter where you come from, as long as you are a Blackman (or woman), you are an African.”
The African Mart takes you to African products for the home, with a wine section where buyers can make purchases from the comfort of their homes especially those in the Diaspora. Egusi, stockfish with Ethiopian. Kenyan. Ghanaian. African products for the kitchen will be served to readers. Amazon is not yet in Nigeria but will robustly display books for the Diaspora community. Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Ethiopia, Brazil, the Caribbean countries will have their exciting sections and coverages.
As Anyiam put it: “We’re not the average breaking news portal. We are more of a periodical with commentary while bringing to the notice of readers all you need to know in the oil and gas sector. Added Anyiam: “With Direct Capital Investment (DCI) increasingly making its way into the various sectors of the African continent, the stock market/bourse has been nothing short of dynamic. Major financial institutions from around the world have their footprints on these markets. In the section, AFRICA INC., our editors will supply weekly indices/ standings on the market for the benefit of our readers.
Why is he avoiding the magazine format of one major cover story and other covers in its orbit? Anyiam said it is a matter of style and choice pointing out that every story on the home page is unique noting that the use of one exclusive cover story subdues the other stories.
The young professional then in the 1980s, made a bold presence in Los Angeles to practice his art, has long become an envoy or representative to a number of countries bordered on the territory called the Indian Islands.
What does this translate to in real life? “Part of the collateral benefits of working in a medium such as ours is the demand on your expertise in connecting the US and various African countries at various levels – economic, political, social and humanitarian.
“For now, I represent a few Indian Island nations such as the Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar, and Comoros Islands, in California at various levels – tourism, direct capital investment, and entertainment.”