Johnson Publishing Selling Jet and Ebony Magazines


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After a run of 71 years in the city of Chicago, Johnson Publishing is leaving the publishing business.

The company announced on Tuesday it had sold it African American lifestyle magazine Ebony and Jet magazine, which is now only available in digital format, to Clear View Group a private equity company based in Austin, Texas for an amount not yet disclosed.

Johnson Publishing will be retaining its business Fashion Fair Cosmetics and its photo archives from Ebony, which is still up for sale. This deal, which closed back in May, also included an assumption of debt.

A business that was family owned throughout the years, Ebony has documented being African American since it first reached the U.S. newsstands during 1945.

The magazine has shaped culture over the past 71 years and came into its own by reporting on the front lines of the country’s civil rights movement of the 1960s with powerful prose and photos.

In recent years, Johnson Publishing has been hit with declining media revenue as it has struggled to evolve from the days of print publications to today’s digital platforms.

Johnson Publishing chair Linda Johnson Rice is the daughter of John Johnson the founder of the company. She will serve as a chairperson emeritus on the new company’s board of directors.

This is a new chapter in keeping the legacy that my father John built, said Rice, adding that he made it to ensure the celebration of all African Americans.

The new entity will be called Ebony Media Operations and will keep its headquarters in Chicago and its editorial office in New York as well as many of the staff, said co-founder and chairman Michael Gibson of Clear View Group, which is African-American owned as well.

This is Clear View’s first investment in publishing. Gibson, who is 59, said the purchase was made because the brand is iconic as it is the brand most recognized in our African American community. He added that it was a great opportunity for the company.

Cheryl McKissack, who served as COO since 2013, is to assume a new role of CEO of the new entity with Clear View. Kierna Mayo will step down as Ebony’s editor in chief to pursue other business opportunities.

Kyra Kyles, based in Chicago, who headed the digital content for Jet and Ebony since June of 2015, will add a new role of editor in chief for Ebony.

The Ebony photo archives have been on sale since January of 2015 and the company hopes to receive $40 million.

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