Monday, January 28, 2008

NYT Gets to the Problem of The Root

The Washington Post has just launched an online magazine called The Root that aims to be a "Slate for black readers." One section of the site is devoted to helping African Americans trace their ancestry. Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is editor in chief, and (the New York Times snidely notes) has a financial interest in getting readers to give up their DNA.

[The site] will also urge people to have DNA testing, which can help them trace their backgrounds to specific ethnic groups and parts of the world. It will offer links to companies that do the testing.

One such company the site will direct people to,, is co-owned by Mr. Gates, a relationship that would be prohibited at some publications.

“I don’t see a conflict of interest,” he said, because The Root will fully disclose his roles and will link to every company that does the DNA testing. [Link]

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