“If you look at the overall industry and what is being done to maintain jobs and maintain the bottom line, what is happening at Ebony and Jet is not unusual,” says Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists. “We are seeing downsizings, pay freezes, and hiring freezes throughout the industry. We can’t hold up Ebony as the sacred cow that does not have some of the same issues regarding the economy as any other media entity.”
One account from Richard Prince’s Maynard Institute blog Journal-isms reports that Lynn A. Norment, Walter Leavy, and Malcolm West, three of the four managing editors at Ebony and Jet, are accepting buyout offers. Jackson would not confirm or deny that these individuals accepted buyouts, but affirmed that out of the 340 full-time employees, some did opt to participate in a voluntary early retirement package that the company offered in 2008 as one of the early initiatives of the multi-phase reorganization.
Ciara cautions all publishing companies to be strategic about whom they let go. “When you look at those salaries, [editors at the top] are an easy kill if you are looking to eliminate the most money from your budget,” Ciara says. “You have to ask yourself the value that those people bring to the development of your product and whether it is worth it to sacrifice them for plain economic reasons knowing that you still have a publication to put out. I hope that with whatever restructuring is happening that the content will remain a priority.”