It’s been an eventful week for Black media, with outlets including Ebony, Jet and Grio all selling to new ownership.
First up, Johnson Publishing sold Ebony (est. 1945) to a large Texas equity firm, Clear View Group according to an announcement Tuesday. Likewise, sister publication Jet magazine (est. 1951) has also been sold, although it has been exclusively digital since 2014. It is the first investment into publishing for Clear View, which is a Black-owned company.
According to The Root, steadily declining print sales and the continued struggled to embrace the growing digital landscape were large factors in the magazine’s sale. “This is the next chapter in retaining the legacy that my father, John H. Johnson, built to ensure the celebration of African Americans,” Linda Johnson Rice, current chairman of Johnson Publishing, said in a statement Tuesday.
Much of the current staff and the headquarters in New York City will remain the same. Johnson Rice will continue on as chairman emeritus under the company’s new name, Ebony Media Operations. The report continues that Cheryl McKissack will be the new CEO of Ebony Media Operations.
The heads of the new magazine home of Ebony/Jet magazines appear to be thrilled with their new acquisitions. “We made this purchase because this is an iconic brand—it’s the most-recognized brand in the African-American community,” Michael Gibson, co-founder and chairman of Clear View Group, said, according to the Tribune. “We just think this is a great opportunity for us.” Current EIC of Ebony Kierna Mayo is leaving the publication to become the Senior Vice President of Content for Interactive One, which is the parent company of HelloBeautiful, while Johnson Publishing will remain control of Fashion Fair Cosmetics and the Ebony photo archives.
As if the news of a beloved company being sold wasn’t enough to digest on its own, it has also been confirmed that website TheGrio has been sold as well. As detailed on The Root, TheGrio was sold to former comedian Byron Allen’s company Entertainment Studios. TheGrio, a website that focuses on Black news and entertainment, says they are thrilled to be a part of the Entertainment Studios family which produces TV shows, cable programming and feature films.
“We are excited to have TheGrio join Byron Allen’s ever-expanding Entertainment Studios media empire,” David Wilson, co-founder and executive editor of TheGrio, added. “Byron shares our vision of growing TheGrio into the leading video content creator and distribution platform for African Americans. We look forward to developing the next iteration of TheGrio, and the fact that it will remain 100 percent African-American owned is very significant.”
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