Pick up the final issue of Jet Magazine now before they are history.
Before there was a radio or television in every home during the era of separate and decidedly unequal, JET reflected the lives of African-Americans transcending the boundaries of racial oppression. From the very beginning, JET spread the gospel of economic success and upward mobility. But none of it could have been done without the strength and courage of one man’s dream.
John H. Johnson had an idea–to reach masses of Black folks around the country and affirm their lives as beautiful and worthy. This idea planted itself in his heart and mind. The more Black faces were missing from newspapers and magazines, the more determined he became. He launched Negro Digest in 1942, reaching people in Black households and storefronts nationwide who yearned to see their values, lives and ambitions reflected in a culture that held them in legal, racial contempt. “It’s so vitally important, particularly for young people, to see themselves in the written narrative,” remarks TV host and Johnson’s lifelong admirer, Tavis Smiley. “Every week in JET you could see that your dreams were not ridiculous or outlandish because other people were actually living out those same aspirations. JET was a weekly affirmation of who we are.”
We are seeing an end of an era. First it was Ebony Fashion Show now Jet Magazine. If you attended the Ebony Fashion show you have to remember getting your free subscription to either Ebony or Jet Magazine. It was so much fun when you went to the show with someone else. You would get one magazine and they would get the other and then we would read them and trade.
The cover of its final issue features a number of its most famous previous covers. Inside, Jet has created a retrospective of the news covered since 1951. This was the magazine that was bold enough to feature Emmett Till’s mutilated body one week and a beautiful Black movie star the next, and how about those centerfolds? Johnson Publishing announced last month that Jet, with a circulation of more than 700,000, will transition to a digital-only format. Jet’s new app, available for smartphones and tablets, is set to launch June 30. The third-largest circulation magazine in the African-American market, Jet reduced publication frequency from weekly to roughly every three weeks in recent years. Last summer, Jet went through a major redesign, with more service-oriented stories, bigger photos, more graphics and a new website. But the changes were not enough to keep the print product cost effective, its publisher said.
Also heading to pasture is “The Arsenio Hall Show.” The show has been canceled because of low ratings, ending Hall’s late-night comeback bid after a single season. Hall’s bid to recreate the success he enjoyed 20 years ago failed to find a big enough audience in the ever-crowded TV market. Many did not know his show was on. CBS Television Production had previously announced Hall’s syndicated show would be back for a second season, but faced the prospect of stations moving it to lesser time slots as ratings fell.
(Email the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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