The black blogosphere is buzzing with the rumor that two media staples of the African American community are on the verge of disappearing. In February, Black Enterprise magazine announced that Ebony and Jet magazines were "restructuring to avoid layoffs," with the cheerful sub-headline: "Johnson Publishing Co. employees told to reapply for jobs."
Now in late April, people are e-mailing, tweeting and talking about the possible irrevocable demise of the only media brands every black person in America knows. Some are even starting a campaign to save the magazines with a subscription drive. A quote via the site Racialicious:
In order to support this effort to save our magazine, my friends and myself have pledged to get a subscription to both Ebony and Jet magazine, starting with one year. We are urging every other club member who comes across this plea to do the same. Please post, repost, and post again, to any blog that you may own or support.
Please email this to every person that you know, regardless of their background. Let them know that Ebony and Jet magazines have been part of the black American culture for three quarters of a century, and that there is a lot that they can learn about black American culture from reading them.
We are currently discussing the idea of throwing an Ebony/Jet Party, where people can eat, drink, and sign up for their subscription on the spot. Please spread this idea around to all that you know. Your Sororities, Fraternities, Lodges, VFW Posts, Churches, Civic Groups, Block Clubs, Caps Meetings, Book Clubs, etc.
It would be a crying shame, to lose our historic magazine, during the same year of such an historic event as the election of our first black President of the United States.
The financial industry may have received a bail out, but the only people who will bail out black media outlets is us. But, Tami (the author of the post) questions whether either of these publications is worth saving in an era of blogs and Web sites.
Plus, she points out: "An example of Johnson Publishing's out-of-touchness? Sunday at the neighborhood Wal-Mart, I picked up a Jet for the first time in forever, in preparation for this post. I wanted to know if it was still there. In an age when black women are fighting stereotyped images of ourselves as Jezebels, playthings and accoutrement for the latest hip hop star whose cuts are banging in the whips of white, teenage suburbanites – it couldn't still be there. But, yeah, center spread, there it was – that paean to black woman thickitude – the Jet Beauty of the Week, a young, black woman in a teeny swimsuit giving sexy face. Is this what I'm supposed to rush to the battlements to save?" Beautifully said.
In addition to the relevance of Ebony/Jet content, there are the questions of its rate of delivery, and the action potential of its information. While Jet's "Pictures of the Week" are nice, it's more politically and socially relevant when black blogs like Bossip use their platform to change opinion. In a recent example, the gossip blog used their media muscle to push for Barack Obama during his campaign, while brutally punishing black celebrities who initially supported Hillary Clinton. Can you imagine Jet referring to Magic Johnson, former BET owner Bob Johnson and Jesse Jackson as "old-time negroes with 'plantation politics'"? Bossip was not afraid to. I bet they encouraged many young blacks to vote through their irreverent reporting.
We have Kanye West commenting on his own blog after being satirized by 'South Park,' with his blog post then getting picked up by major news outlets. We have Snoop Dogg clearing up rumors of his wife's death over Twitter. We have the first black president using YouTube to speak directly to his constituents every week. Where does Johnson Publishing Co. fit in in this new age? Can they catch up? Will you support them?