At first glance, I thought The Shade Room was another online rumor mill. After interviewing its found and editor-in-chief Angie [who insisted her last name remain unknown], I was pleasantly mistaken. TheShadeRoom.com is a rising online celebrity-entertainment news outlet. The site generates its coverage from community reporting. Bloggers or "roommates" send breaking news into Angie and her editorial team, and The Shade Room shares it with their 600,000 readers.
"There is no other platform where the people have a voice to control what goes up and stays up," Angie said.
Angie, 24, is a first-generation American daughter of two Nigerian parents. Oddly the recent college graduate turned blog queen extraordinaire never wanted to become a blogger. As she explained, "At first, The Shade Room was a social experiment."
After winning a screenwriting competition at Sundance Film Festival, the then accounting major pursued her dream of storytelling in film. In her free time, she decided to create an Instagram page for celebrity and entertainment news. Hence, The Shade Room.
However what began as a modest Instagram page soon became a leading celebrity-entertainment news powerhouse. The Shade Room now reaches over 1.8 million people on Facebook and over 920,000 followers on Twitter and Instagram combined.
To say Angie is busy is a litote. She is often messaging with her "roommates" and editorial team about story ideas or asking her business manager about her next step. She's the definition of Beyoncé's song "World Wide Woman;" she's running a 24-hour news source where you can log on anywhere.
The young entrepreneur credits The Shade Room's success to her small team and roommates.
"Honestly, it's [the roommates'] blog," Angie said, "They control it."
The hard work of The Shade Room's roommates was featured on The Wendy Williams Show's Hot Topics, TMZ and VH1's Love and Hip-Hop over this past year.
Like Angie details, the blog's infrastructure is dependent on community reporting. The business model is three-fold: The Shade Room provides the platform, bloggers provide the news, and the readers provide the conversation.
Recently the site's reporting has changed to more pressing topics than celebrity gossip. The stories highlight positive news and social issues. Angie hopes this change will inspire marginalized communities.
This adjustment comes as The Shade Room's audience's taste changes. The same agile strategy is used for their social media handles.
"It's about meeting the people where they are," Angie said.
After much review, Angie and her team learned they needed to change the way they shared news online. As suspected, their analytics reported their younger readers were on social media apps like Twitter and Instagram while their 24-35 years old were finding their news on Facebook. The adjustments have improved their traffic tremendously.
Aside from print and social media, the business plans to move into video production to introduce web shows and a celebrity interview series Step into the Shade Room on YouTube.
"I want The Shade Room to be a source for all celebrity-entertainment news," Angie said.
Undoubtedly Angie's social experiment will soon become the next major source for all celebrity-entertainment. The Shade Room is more than gossip. It's a community-based news source "where people can embrace their honest opinion."