You Won’t’ Believe Who Just Bought Ebony and Jet Magazine
In mid-June we learned that the legendary Ebony and Jet magazines have been sold off to a freakin’ private equity firm? Read how it happened, and why this might actually be good news…
On June 15, Chicago newspapers reported that two of the most famous black publications in the world had been sold, sending waves of both shock and nostalgia throughout the black celebrity news world.
It’s a personal subject for modern black entertainment and gossip sites. In a time when black men and women were largely invisible in popular culture, Jet and Ebony shined a spotlight on everything from black celebrity news to the civil rights movement. Now, the iconic magazines have been sold to a private equity group based in Texas.
While the news shocked many long-time Ebony readers, it’s actually good news. One urban news site reported that the private equity group is also a black-owned company, and its founders seem to appreciate the legacy of their new publications.
Tons of magazines have shut down in recent years, but few magazines have the cultural significance of Ebony and Jet. Recently, Jet switched to an online-only format because of declining circulation, and has struggled to compete with more popular black celeb gossip sites. Both magazines will continue to exist for now, with Jet publishing online and Ebony publishing in both print and digital formats.
Why Were the Magazines Sold?
Johnston Publishing created Ebony 71 years ago, but recently the company has taken on debt. By selling the flagship brands, the company will also get rid of serious debt problems, while the private equity group focuses on bringing the magazines to a 21st century audience raised on TMZ, BET, and urban news websites.
Today, the celebrity gossip industry earns more than $3 billion annually, and there’s a highly lucrative market for black celebrity news in particular. But while many young women still pick up a glossy fashion magazine or tabloid now and again, the vast majority of young people look for entertainment news, style tips, gossip, and just about everything else on the Internet. Young black audiences in particular use mobile devices like smartphones to access black gossip sites and videos online, more so than any other demographic.
Hopefully, the sale of Ebony will ultimately turn out to be a positive change, with the brands getting an update for a new century. Even today, when people can’t stop talking about race and Hollywood, four out of five magazine covers feature a skinny white lady.
This is also the perfect time to look back on some of the most famous Ebony magazine covers, which have included icons like Diana Ross, Prince, Denzel Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., and so many more legendary African-American icons.