Ebony magazine has shown the glamour and grit of Black life since Nov. 1, 1945, when Black entrepreneur John Johnson published the first issue. He intended it to be a Black version of Henry Luce’s Life magazine.
Ebony‘s stories and glossy photos of Black politicians, athletes, protesters, artists, models and college students have fed the souls of Black people for generations.
But in recent years the magazine faced the same challenges as many other traditional print publications. Now, as it turns 76, the publication is rebooting and hoping for a revival with a new approach.
John Johnson’s company, Johnson Publishing, sold Ebony and its sister magazine Jet to a private equity firm in 2016.
Ebony stopped printing its magazine in 2019 and Johnson Publishing filed for bankruptcy the same year.
The magazines changed hands again last year, with Milwaukee Bucks alum and Black businessman Ulysses Bridgeman buying Ebony and Jet for $14 million in December. It officially relaunched in March.
Lessons from the historical Black press
Ebony is embracing a purely digital format to reach audiences. But now many media platforms are making stories about Black people. Clint Wilson taught journalism at Howard University and recalls a similar moment during the civil rights era.
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SOURCE: NPR, Andrew Craig