After 71 years of providing communities of color (more specifically, black communities) worldwide with a reflection of themselves in mass media through publications like Ebony and Jet, Johnson Publishing announced it would be shuttering its doors—for their publishing sector, that is.
On June 14, the company announced that it would be selling off their flagship publications—namely the aforementioned Ebony and Jet—to a private equity firm located in Austin, Texas named Clear View Group, according to The Chicago Tribune. The sale, which was finalized in May, will absolve Johnson Publishing of financial fallout, with Clear View taking on the company’s accrued debt.
The company, which was founded in 1945 by John Johnson, has produced publications that have long been far more than typical lifestyle magazines. As The Chicago Tribune noted, Johnson Publishing as a whole “shaped culture ever since, coming into its own as it reported from the front lines of the civil rights movement during the 1960s in powerful photos and prose.”
Despite the sale, company chairman Linda Johnson Rice, whose father began the publisher, sounded hopeful in the official statement she made on Tuesday.
“This is the next chapter in retaining the legacy that my father, John H. Johnson, built to ensure the celebration of African-Americans,” she said.
Clear View’s own co-founder, Michael Gibson, stressed that their acquisition would continue to honor the animus of the publications as a whole. (It should be noted that Clear View itself is “African-American owned,” as The Tribune pointed out.)
“We made this purchase because this is an iconic brand—it’s the most-recognized brand in the African-American community,” said Gibson. “We just think this is a great opportunity for us.”
He also added that Clear View intents to keep Ebony a print magazine, all the while “[growing its] digital platform more consistently.” (Jet has been available exclusively online for a number of years.)
“It’s a dream come true,” Gibson added while speaking of the purchase. “Growing up, we had Ebony and Jet in our household all along. You knew you made it when you made it to the cover of Ebony or Jet. It is just exciting—I pinch myself every morning.”
While Johnson has withdrawn from the publishing industry, its Fashion Fair Cosmetics business will continue to operate. The company will also keep possession of its vast photo archive, which is also currently available for sale.
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Image via AP.