The COVID-19 pandemic and the disappearance of many black news professionals inspired Cary Wheelous to launch Hayti, a mobile app that provides users with access to content from over 200 black publishers. (Courtesy picture)
By Megan Sayles
AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
When Cary Wheelous learned that the carolina times would close following the untimely death of publisher Kenneth Edmonds in May 2020, he was amazed that yet another black newspaper went bankrupt. Wheelous, who lives near the publication’s location in Durham, North Carolina, knew he had to do something to protect members of the black press.
“I thought to myself, ‘Someone has to help these black publishers and these black newspapers,’ Wheelous said. The result was Hayti, a mobile app for Apple and Android that aggregates articles, videos and podcasts from black publishers nationally and internationally.
The app, pronounced “hay-tie”, is named after the Hayti community of Durham where black-owned businesses and black wealth flourished in the early 1900s. The neighborhood was a Black Wall Street in North Carolina , and its name honored the country of Haiti, the first free black republic in the world.
Wheelous said the only reason Hayti was able to materialize was because of COVID-19. He is president of College Health TV, a leading streaming channel that brings health and wellness programming to colleges and universities nationwide. When the pandemic hit, campuses stopped broadcasting its channels, which severely affected its business. He found himself with free time so he devoted himself to creating the app, and after eight months of work, it was ready to launch in May 2021.
“Nobody lumped together all the black press and all the black media,” Wheelous said. “It was my goal to do that as a company.”
The app has compiled news content from over 200 publishers in the United States, Africa and the Caribbean. It covers topics such as entertainment, food, sports, politics, business, and HBCU news. Hayti is also the first black-owned mobile app allowing users to store content in personalized folders and offer videos, articles and podcasts on a single platform.
One of the main features is its “Today in Black History” section, in which Wheelous documented 365 days of unique facts ranging from black inventions to the civil rights movement.
“Black history has always been important to me,” Wheelous said. It’s basically been kind of a support system for me, knowing what my ancestors did to be able to get me this far.
Because he developed the app with the goal of helping black publishers keep their businesses going, users are taken directly to the news site when they click on the content rather than having the content at their layout in Hayti. This allows publishers to generate more ad revenue.
Wheelous hopes Hayti makes it easier for people to find and consume news and information directly from the black press, and he also hopes he can help prevent the collapse of established black publications.
“The app is for everyone because everyone wants to know what’s going on in the black community,” Wheelous said. “For the first time ever, everyone can find out what’s going on and what’s going on in the black community.”
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