Ebony and Jet Magazines Are in Financial Trouble and Looking for Buyers


John H. Johnson, Founder of Jet and Ebony Magazines
John H. Johnson, Founder of Jet and Ebony Magazines

(Taylor Media Services)

The rumors which had circulated for months were pretty much confirmed last week, the nation’s premier Black-oriented publications – Ebony and Jet magazines – are in severe financial trou ble and owner Johnson Publishing Company is looking for investors or buyers in order to stay afloat.

Newsweek magazine broke the story reporting that company CEO Linda Johnson Rice had already approached media giants Time, Inc. and Viacom to invest in or even buy the troubled firm.

Then the financial giant Crain’s issued a report showing that revenue at Johnson Publishing Company fell by a whopping 28 percent last year.

Time, Inc. already owns the Black women’s magazine Essence and Viacom owns Black Entertainment Television (BET).

Last May Johnson Publishing mortgaged its Chicago-based headquarters building in order to raise funds.

The company has been Black-controlled since its founding by John H. Johnson in 1945. However, sale to a mainstream company would almost assuredly end Black control but the Black-orientation would probably continue.

The company’s problems appear to flow from two sources: Declining readership as African Americans turn to competing media sources and a decline in revenue as major firms have cut back on advertising during the current recession.

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