Tuesday, September 1, 2009

AB.com Guest Post - Are Ebony & Jet Worth Saving?!?

[Editor's Note: I'm still on vacation today, so my cyber cousin The Black Snob has the reigns, and examines the looming crisis for two Black institutions, the venerable Ebony and Jet Magazines. On a related note, The Snob and I have a pretty cool collaborative feature in the works. Stay tuned.]

I don't read Ebony or Jet and haven't done much more than skim through one in years. I'm apparently part of the problem that is killing the two magazines -- younger readers who use the internet as their primary news source and not print. According to Black Web 2.0, Johnson Publishing, which owns the magazines, is starting a new push on-line to redevelop their content and make it more internet savvy, but when Jet sent yet another letter in the mail essentially begging for my parents to renew, this time without even having to pay a thing, I realized how dire it was. It was even more interesting how little my parents, who have read both publications their entire lives, seemed interested in renewing.
By some accounts, Johnson Publishing is in crisis mode, with its print advertising revenue down three consecutive years and getting worse because of the recession and the wholesale shifting of advertising dollars to the Internet.

This year alone, Ebony’s advertising revenue has dropped 31.8 percent, according to the Publishers Reference Bureau. And the worst may not be over, as many marketers continue shifting dollars away from black media and focusing on the faster growing Hispanic audience.

The situation is so serious that Johnson Publishing has been forced to make a series of staff layoffs totaling some 150 people, according to published reports.
If older people aren't buying and younger people aren't reading, Ebony/Jet is going to have a tough time weathering the great Newspocalyse that has already claimed Vibe Magazine and many others.

Ebony/Jet are the originals, the survivors and the best known black publications in the US. But both have been criticized for their content and their content is why I don't read. I find both magazines lacking in complexity. Others have their reasons for not reading. But part of me is sad that both magazines are struggling in light of the fact there are so few black-owned publications. What would Ebony/Jet have to do to get you interested in reading their product or do you believe that if they can't survive the market they should be allowed to die?

Question: Do you care if Ebony/Jet is still on the shelves? In today's web-centric, postracial America, is there even a need for these magazines anymore? When's the last time you picked up a copy of either?

Amid A Crisis, Ebony and Jet Look To Web For Help. [BlackWeb2.0]

More Snobbery [TheBlackSnob]

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