Exclusive: Linda Johnson Rice Talks Jet Going Digital and the Future of the Brand

Exclusive: Linda Johnson Rice Talks Jet Going Digital and the Future of the Brand

Johnson Publishing Co. (JPC) announced today that Jet magazine will be leaving the print space and going digital starting the end of June 2014 with a weekly digital magazine app and an annual special print edition.

Founded in 1951 by John H. Johnson, Jet has been a staple in African American homes for decades, with the evolution of its brand creating the slogan, “If it isn’t in Jet, it didn’t happen.”

Black Enterprise.com spoke to JPC chairman Linda Johnson Rice to get the exclusive on the magazine’s new transition and why going digital is just another way to expand the Jet brand to newer heights.

BlackEnterprise.com: What do you have to say to people who fear this means that Jet may be going away?

It’s just the opposite. Jet actually is going to get bigger because the brand will expand now that it’s going to be online. It will have a much more global reach, so it’s really the opposite. It’s not going away, it’s actually evolving on a much bigger and broader platform.

With this shift, are you scared of losing the older generation who for years have looked forward to their Jet subscription coming in the mail?

Hopefully we will be able to transition them along as we move to the digital world. I’m sure there will be some drop off. I think it’s to be expected. But the great thing is that we’re going to offer them Ebony, which is terrific.

The most important thing is, I hope that the people who are loyal to Jet will also understand that you will still be getting Jet magazine. As a matter of fact, instead of getting it every 3 weeks, you will be getting Jet magazine every week. It’s just that you will be getting it online.

What can we expect Jet to add to the online space?

Oh it’s going to be much more robust because when you have a magazine app then you can leverage all kind of storytelling tools: video interviews, enhanced digital maps, 3-D charts, photography from our archives. I think it is really exciting. We’ve got a new digital editorial director Kyra Kyles, who’s just wonderful. I’ve seen some of the beta site and it really is just very exciting. So now you have a site that is going to really bring Jet to life.

I’m also excited because along with this we are going to have an Ebony/Jet online store. So that will be another new site for us. So you will be able to purchase photographs from our Ebony collection archives. There will be apparel and merchandise from Ebony and Jet. So we’re really expanding the brand and I think this will be an excellent opportunity for us.