Sources of Joy: Kelly Virella’s Dominion of New York

Kelly Virella's magazine is a source of joy for her.

I’ve worked in a lot of jobs where colleagues talk about what they’d really love to do.

For Kelly Virella, my friend and former colleague at The Chicago Reporter, the goal was to start a magazine.

Fortunately for us, less than two years after leaving the Reporter and continuing her award-winning career as a reporter and editor at City Limits, an investigative outfit in New York City, she’s done just that.

Kelly’s project is Dominion of New York, an online news organization she founded in July of last year.

The Dominion website contains the following description:

Dominion of New York is the international magazine for black people who love powerful ideas. 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. We scour the globe in search of black people with powerful ideas and spotlight the black intellectual and cultural life of New York City, providing one of the city’s best black arts and events calendars. We give black idea lovers around the globe a forum to connect and dialogue about what matters to them.

 If you’ve not checked out the site, I highly recommend giving it a close look, as it’s full of rich, engaging and varied content.

Last week I read a lengthy piece by Michael Starkey, Kelly’s husband, about Prince’s unfortunate move to forbid certain musical groups from using their name.

Here’s Michael’s opening paragraph:

Condensate, a new R&B album released in October, sounds a lot like the old Prince band, The Time.  The funky bass, wicked guitar licks, and charismatic cool of the lead singer all recall the earlier group.  In fact, the lead singer of this new band is Morris Day, and the album features the band’s original seven members.  But if it walks like the Time and talks like the Time, that doesn’t mean it can be called The Time.  These founding fathers of the Minneapolis sound are now just another band with a new name trying to find an audience, because Prince won’t let them use their old one.  They’re one of two groups who this year tried and failed to get the Purple Yoda—of all people—to allow them to use their name.  So they’re taking lemons and making lemonade.  They’ve renamed themselves The Original 7ven and plastered “The Band Formerly Known As The Time” on their new album cover and website.

Punchy, information-packed, and bringing a previously unknown issue to light, the story is typical of the type of fare you’ll find on Dominion (To be fair to Michael’s hard work, this story took a lot of digging and is substantially longer than many of the other pieces.).

Dominion is smart about its use of social media to increase audience engagement, too.  Michael’s story and many other’s include links and videos in them, while reader’s recent comments, the buzz about the magazine, Twitter and Facebook are all dynamic parts of the site.

Dominion has stories about everything from memoirs to blogs to history and justice.  And, while the geographic focus is on New York, the magazine is open to information, trends, news and ideas about black people from around the globe.

They’re looking for writers, too.

As the page about writing for the magazine indicates, there are seven distinct type of writing opportunities for freelancers.  Aside from reviews, they’re paid gigs, too (This is in contrast with other spaces, in which page views and the privilege of joining an existing community are the prevailing currency.).

At places the site shows that the publication is in a growing stage.

The Dating section hasn’t had new content since August, and the International part of the site at this point only has information about Paris.  Meanwhile, Kelly’s review of Condoleezza Rice’s memoir is more of a straightforward recounting of the book’s contents that is grounded in a, to my view, overly charitable read of the former Bush era official’s actions during those two administrations than I would expect from someone of Kelly’s analytical skills and writing gifts.

These are but minor concerns, though, and an indicator more of the publication’s growing staff and capacity than of some larger issue.

Since its launch, Dominion’s audience has grown tremendously.  The publication’s traffic hit nearly 50,000 distinct visitors and more than 88,000 page views last month, and Kelly is actively engaged in fundraising for this worthy and exciting project.

So, whether you are a news consumer interested in finding out about black New Yorkers, a potential funder, a freelance writer looking for work or someone looking for an example of a person looking to realize their dream, check out Dominion of New York.

I’m confident you won’t be disappointed.


One response to “Sources of Joy: Kelly Virella’s Dominion of New York

  1. Hi Jeff! Thanks for writing about us! It’s good to see you keeping your blog up too!

    Also, thanks for the feedback. You helped me realize that I had accidentally attributed the Condoleeza Rice review to me! It’s actually written by Joshua Bloodworth, one of our arts and culture writers. LOL! Just changed that. Sorry. I’m wearing so many hats that I sometimes get confused.

    We try to do one long read every week. So I would love it if your readers would stop by and join in the discussion.

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