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'Ebony' Seeks Buyer or Partner

  • Newsweek, Monday, September 28, 2009 11:01 PM
Johnson Publishing is seeking a buyer or investor for its flagship publication, Ebony, to ensure that the nation's oldest magazine devoted to African-American life survives. CEO Linda Johnson Rice, the daughter of Ebony's legendary founder, the late John H. Johnson, has approached, among others, Time Inc., Viacom, and private investors, according to insiders.

Time Inc. already owns Essence, a monthly lifestyle magazine for African-American women. Viacom, meanwhile, owns BET. Ebony's woes seem to dash hopes that African-American-owned or -oriented media would see a big lift in the marketplace with the election of Barack Obama. Rice is a close member of the Obama's Chicago social circle.

It's unclear if negotiations are presently underway between Ebony and any potential rescuers. Rice, given the magazine's historical significance and its deep roots in her family, hopes to remain an integral part of the publishing company, say sources. This suggests she prefers to woo a partner rather than sell the magazine outright.



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