the synergy between Time Inc.’s various titles will be evident is in the advertising arena. McAniff says Time often sells ads as packages in multiple magazines and plans to continue that practice with Essence and Suede. For example, a company could purchase advertisements in both Suede and InStyle and, as a result, increase the new division’s revenue stream.
Even if the deal brings no immediate changes, it signals the end of another African American-controlled institution. Says Richard Prince, a media columnist for the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education: “Now anytime Essence does something that people are suspicious of, they’ll probably consider blaming it on its ownership by Time.”
But BET’s Johnson believes the thrust of Essence will stay intact. “[You] don’t buy a strong brand, trash it, and then try to convince customers to come back, ” he says. “[You] say, ‘Here’s a strong brand. Let’s do everything we can to make it better.’ ”
Maintains Gillespie: “When we start talking about media, we are talking about the power of information. Those who control the messaging have enormous clout. I would hope that the central mission of the magazine would not be tampered with. I certainly know that as long as Susan Taylor is there, that will be so.”
For now, the readers of Essence are waiting to see if the sale of their magazine is tantamount to the loss of their voice.
—Additional reporting by Tamara Holmes and Sakina Spruell