Linda Johnson Rice
takes back control of JPC, denies company has plans to leave Chicago
7, 2017) Following a month of announcements on corporate restructurings,
Linda Johnson Rice is back at the helm of three of the best known
brands in Black America.
Over the weekend, a statement was released by Johnson Publishing Co.
citing the departure of Desiree Rogers, who will end her seven-year tenure
as CEO on June 2. Her duties will be assumed by the company's chairman,
This news was preceded three weeks earlier by an announcement that Johnson
Rice, 58, was replacing the departing CEO of Ebony Media Operations Cheryl
McKissack. EMO is the company operates the magazines after they were
acquired last June by Texas-based CVG Group.
A Chicago Tribune story last week claimed that JPC was firing a third of
all of its staff, including Ebony's editor, Kyra Kyles, and suggested it
was moving to Los Angeles, where Jet's current Editor In Chief, Tracy
Ferguson, was already based.
In an interview with Target Market News, Johnson Rice denied there had
been extensive layoffs or plans to relocate and said recent developments
were all are part of her ongoing plan to streamline and grow the company
founded by her father and mother in Chicago 75 years ago.
"Sometimes you have to make some hard choices and hard changes, but I
think that this is what's great for the business, in order to grow the
business and to keep it on a path that will be successful."
"In an effort to streamline our business and to get it where it needs to
be, we decided we would consolidate and have Tracey Ferguson, who is the
Editor In Chief of Jet, also be EIC of Ebony and handle all of the ditigal [needs] on both sites," said Johnson Rice. There will also be
editorial staff in New York and Chicago.
"We will still have a big presence in Chicago," she continued, "because
our sales and marketing team is there, our production is in Chicago. So I
want to be real clear on that -- we're not leaving Chicago."
The company recently signed an agreement with the famed talent firm,
William Morris (now known as WME). "We signed both brands with William
Morris to represent us in broadcast opportunities and media opportunities
and events like The Power 100," said Johnson Rice. "They're going to
handle both brands across multiple platforms."
Johnson Rice also said that the problems of recent undelivered issues to
subscribers were being resolved. "We changed printers in late last year
and that threw us off track. We apologize profusely to all our
subscribers, who we value greatly. We've been behind in sending the issues
but they will receive the issues they missed. We're in the process of
catching everybody up. We had a bit of a learning curve when we changed
printers and things got behind, but we're back on track."
Ebony, which had published monthly, is now producing eight issues a year,
with four special subject issues released only on newsstands.
One indication that JPC at last may be turning the corner on its
challenges is the announcement that Jet magazine, once the largest
circulation black-oriented magazine ever printed, will return to
publication as a newsstand-only quarterly targeting a millennial
readership. After suspending print editions in 2014, Johnson Rice said it
will re-appear in the fall of this year.
Perhaps Jet's return will come in November, which founder John H. Johnson
called his "lucky month" because his very first magazine, Negro Digest,
debuted in November of 1942. Every one of the 11 magazines JPC would
introduce over the past 75 years premiered in November as well.
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