Friday, September 23, 2011

Ebony and Jet Magazines Work to Revamp Their Image

By: Shani K. Collins, Your Black World

and Jet magazines are staples in many Black households across America; however, in recent years, the magazines have experienced limited sales and circulation issues. The circulation issues were addressed by a consultant who determined that Johnson Publishing was “charging too much for subscriptions compared to the competition, wasn’t doing enough direct mail marketing, wasn’t asking for renewals enough, and wasn’t even putting enough copies around hair salons and public places where readers might find the magazine, become intrigued, and subscribe.”

The company desires to reach those in their 30s, and is working to revamp both magazines, introduce new technology such as I-pad applications, and launch new magazine websites. Linda Johnson Rice, chairwoman of the company said she knew changes had to occur if the publishing company her parents John and Eunice Johnson founded in 1941 was to survive. Facing competition from internet sites and online publications, Rice sold an equity stake to banker, JPMorgan Chase.

“I really wanted this business to grow," said Rice, "and I really stopped and I thought, if we really want to expand and we want to expand Ebony and Jet and Fashion Fair Cosmetics as brands, right now we just can’t do this alone. It’s too challenging of an environment.”

Ron Jones, 52, an Ebony reader said, ”It taps into the community, who I am, an African-American, and it gives me insight on the entertainment and things that are happening not only in the city but in the country and around the world.” On the other hand, 32 year-old Iesha Clark admits to not having read Ebony magazine: “I’ve heard of it and seen it a few times, but I haven’t read it before," Clark said.

With Desiree Rogers, former White House Social Secretary at the helm of Johnson Publishing as CEO, magazine sales continue to increase. National Public Radio reports “the first half of this year, readership for Ebony rose 11 percent; for Jet, readership rose 8 percent. In August, the Audit Bureau of Circulation listed both among the top 25 fastest-growing consumer magazines.”

Ebony is not just a magazine, it’s a movement, and we’re hoping that more than Black Americans pick it up, because we need people to be aware of what’s transpiring with the 41 million Black Americans in this country," said Rogers.

Efforts to reach a younger demographic are ongoing as Ebony and Jet magazines work to revamp their images. For subscription information, visit

Shani K. Collins is a freelance writer. You may visit her at

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