Update: Ebony, Jet Orders Reorganization to Avoid Layoffs

Johnson Publishing Co. employees told to reapply for jobs

august2008ebonycover_edited-11Even before the stock markets began to crash in September, revenue from advertising, circulation, and subscription sales had started to grow scarce in the magazine publishing industry. While many print publications are falling along the wayside, Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Co. decided last week to undergo a reorganization, which will require all current employees, including those working for Ebony and Jet magazines to reapply for their jobs.

“Reshaping our organizational design will help ensure that we continue to evolve with the ever-changing media landscape,” said Linda Johnson Rice, chairman & CEO, in a statement.

The changes are being put into place to continue the 67-year-old company’s “long-term success and ensure [its] future as the entire publishing industry navigates the tumultuous economic climate,” explained Staci R. Collins Jackson, a spokesperson at Johnson.

Jackson says that Johnson has not “laid off” any employees, and that Bryan Monroe is still employed with Johnson as vice president and editorial director for Ebony and Jet magazines, contrary to reports by other news outlets that his position had been eliminated.

Monroe was recruited by Rice in August of 2007 to provide a creative edge to the two magazines, help update the Website, and increase circulation by targeting a younger audience. Since he started, Ebony has launched a redesigned Website with a more contemporary interface. Prior to Johnson, Monroe worked as an assistant vice president of news at Knight Ridder before it was sold to McClatchy Co.

Circulation at Ebony, a monthly general interest magazine, increased by 3.5%, and circulation at Jet, a weekly news magazine covering entertainment, news and lifestyle stories of interest to African Americans, rose 2.2% through the first half of 2008. Their numbers were slightly better than the industry as a whole, which was flat for the same period, according to Neal Lulofs, senior vice president of communications at the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

On the other hand, year-on-year, ad revenue at Ebony fell by 18.8% and by 40.9% at Jet for the fourth quarter of 2008. Among media targeting ethnic populations, Johnson Publishing, the largest black-owned publishing company, is not alone in trying to survive the economic washout. Revenue decreased at Vibe magazine, an urban music publication, by 15.2%, and by 22.2% at Essence, a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle magazine targeting black women.

“The magazine business has been hit pretty hard by this very severe drop-off in ad revenue and difficulty at newsstands in the past year,” says Lucia Moses, a senior editor covering print media at Mediaweek. “Optimists say that year-to-year declines will start to ease in the second half of this year, but let’s face it, nobody really knows. It could get worse before it gets better.”

Indeed, general market publications are slashing jobs by the hundreds. Condé Nast, publisher of Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and Vogue, has cut 5% of its work force and has shuttered Domino, a three-year-old home magazine, Time Inc. has let go more than 600 people, and Reader’s Digest purged 8% of its work

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  • http://suiteminute.com/ Peggy Duncan

    Companies often overlook streamlining outdated processes and procedures and revolutionizing how they incorporate technology to get things done faster and with less people. It’s especially apparent when you have people who have been in jobs for years working the same inefficient way they always have.

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  • Hmmmm

    Hmmmm…I wonder how long a magazine dedicated strickly for WHITE people would be tolerated? You know the AMERICAN-Americans instead of all the AFRICAN-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Japaneses-Americans, Chinese-Americans, and all the others out there. (If you have to put some other country in front of America to feel like you belong, then you are not an American at all the way I see it. You see, I am an AMERICAN of Cherokee descent but first and foremost, I am AMERICAN!!) But for some reason there is some kind of uproar about these magazines for BLACK people? Surely there shouldn’t be any such comparison though. “IVORY” would be a catchy name, now wouldn’t it? This is a such a “non-issue” it is laughable.

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  • http://blackenterprise B. Townsend

    To the person who commented that this was such a “non-issue that it is laughable”:
    Ebony and Jet are not just for black people, it’s about black people; their interests, their community, their businesses as well as black leaders, people/information that can help them achieve a decent life. AFRICAN is not put in front of ‘Americans’ to make us feel more American. The whipped backs and blood of our ancesters that built this country gave us that right.You ask how long a ‘white only’ magazine would be tolerated…well probably as long as ‘white only’ bathrooms, resturants, hospitals, schools, etc lasted….until the law prohibited it!You mention Chinese, Japanese, and Native Americans, but fail to make the destinction of just who was brought to this country in chains against their will, enslaved and murdered if they even tried to learn to read or write. Yes, you ignorant ass, it IS a big deal!

  • http://blackenterprise B. Townsend

    i apologize for referring to someone as ‘ignorant ass’. That was uncalled for and ignorant on my part

  • http://www.shaklee.net/bknox W. Knox

    “You see, I am an AMERICAN of Cherokee descent but first and foremost, I am AMERICAN!!” It is interesting that you are of Native American descent, given all that your people have suffered to BE Americans that you don’t seem to understand the need for awareness and the acknowledgement of the heritage of the individual, all individuals. For within that uniqueness we all find our sameness and commonality that breaks down barriers of racism and ignorance. So yes, these publications need to survive along with any publication that celebrates the various cultures of the diverse peoples of the world.

  • BUNNY

    It seems that the Company have been having some sort of problems for awhile..It has always been THE BEST that it could be for as long as I can remember but when staff,ideas,and round table discussions are not as important as they once were….YOU WILL LOSS SOMETHING….I will continue to support the magazines as well as Fahion Fair makeup…….

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    I feel that more creative ways need to be developed to get more participation from potential clients of ad space. Here is my detailed response http://hubpages.com/hub/Black-Business-Builders-Ad-Coop-May-Hold-Solution-to-Magazine-Ad-Revenue-Woes

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    I WOULD LIKE to advertise my website in your magazine. what is the cost ?

  • Kevin

    What is laughable, is you have a person who thinks that the uproar over Jet and Ebony magazines is a non-issue. To me, this person is just too ignorant of a person to at least take a look at what these magazines mean to many in the black community. Sure the world is becoming more diverse, however, does that mean, black people should not be able to celebrate themselves? Of course not. We, as a people, should be able to celebrate ourselves, regardless of this person’s opinion.

  • Donna Ford-Dortch

    To the publishers of Ebony:

    May be ads have been your driving force in the past, however content is what is happening today.

    Filling your magazines with information people can use… Im sure will increase sales.

    HEALTH AND BEAUTY IS IMPORTANT…CELEBRITY STATUS IS NOT.

    REPORTING IS EXHILERATING…SHOWCASING IS NOT.

    Make room for those who have been struggling to be discovered. Those who have made it don’t need anymore exposure.

    Donna Ford-Dortch
    The Majestic

  • P.M. Azinga

    I live & work in Beijing,China. Obama has accepted an invitation from Hu JinTao to visit China?

    Need a reporter to cover the story?

  • Raymond Butler

    I find it interesting that a discussion about ethnicity and the political correctness of words used to describe a people remains relevant and unchanged. In order to affect real change in the way we describe ourselves is to lobby for change in the application process that would define a national identity. By this I mean, when required to complete any City, State, or Government form we should demand that the options be stated as American or non-American. It would be the first step to change thinking in America. Unfortunately, the idea presented will not work because most white Americans want politically, socially, and economically to be identified as a separate group as a whole. Has anyone heard the term “Irish-American, German-American, Native-American, etc. These are word identifiers that others feel quite comfortable with. Yet I often hear of Black-American speak proudly of having a mixture of Indian blood, but few ever have done anything to support the American Indian, nor have many of these individuals – not all – have ever visited an Indian reservation, or know one Native American language. Of course, this is strictly my personal opinion, and fodder for thought.

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