Black Media Shake-Up: Ebony, Jet Mag & The Grio All Sold

Johnson Publishing has sold Ebony and Jet magazines to a large Texas equity firm. It’s been an eventful week for Black media with outlets Ebony, Jet, and The Grio being sold to new ownership.

First up, Johnson Publishing sold Ebony magazine (est. 1945) to a large Texas equity firm, Clear View Group, according to an announcement Tuesday. The 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 magazines’ 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.

Much of the current staff and the headquarters in New York City will remain the same. Rice will continue as chairman emeritus under the company’s new name, Ebony Media Operations. The president and CEO of McKissack & McKissack, a women/minority-owned professional design and construction firm, Cheryl McKissack, will be the new CEO of Ebony Media Operations.

Clear View appears 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, said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “We just think this is a great opportunity for us.”

The current Editor in Chief 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 in 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, it has also been confirmed that the website The Grio has been sold. As detailed on The Root, The Grio was sold to former comedian Byron Allen’s company, Entertainment Studios. The Grio, 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 The Grio join Byron Allen’s ever-expanding Entertainment Studios media empire,” David Wilson, co-founder and executive editor of The Grio, added. “Byron shares our vision of growing The Grio into the leading video content creator and distribution platform for African-Americans. We look forward to developing the next iteration of The Grio, and the fact that it will remain 100 percent African-American owned is very significant.”

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