Update: Ebony, Jet Orders Reorganization to Avoid Layoffs - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

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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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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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