Two of the country’s oldest consumer magazines targeting African-American readers have been sold, with Johnson Publishing’s announcement that private equity firm Clear View Group has acquired Ebony and Jet.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it includes the assumption of an unspecified amount of debt.
The announcement spells the end of Johnson’s 71-year-long publishing business, which dates back to 1945, when founder John Johnson launched Ebony to address political and social issues affecting African-Americans.
However, the company still owns the Fashion Fair Cosmetics business, which markets beauty products to African-American women. It is also holding on to Ebony’s massive photo archive, which it is hoping to sell separately with an asking price of around $40 million.
As part of the transition, Ebony’s editor in chief, Kierna Mayo, is leaving the company and will be replaced by Kyra Kyles, who previously led the publisher’s digital content strategy.
Clear View, an African-American-owned private equity firm that invests in businesses serving the African-American market, is forming a new company called Ebony Media Operations to publish the print flagship magazine, as well as Jet, its weekly news, opinion culture and lifestyle title, which moved to a digital-only publication in 2014.
The Jet digital app emphasizes interactive and multimedia content including video interviews, enhanced digital maps, 3D charts and photography from the Johnson Publishing archives, all optimized for tablets and smartphones. The magazine also publishes an annual special print edition.
Like other big consumer magazines, Ebony has contended with declining print circulation and advertising revenues over the last decade. According to the Alliance for Audited Media (previously the Audit Bureau of Circulations), Ebony’s total circ fell 22% from 1.51 million in the first half of 2005 to 1.18 million in the first half of 2015.