Johnson Publishing Co. has sold Ebony magazine and its now digital-only sister publication Jet to an African American-owned private equity firm based in Austin, Texas, the company announced.
“We are here to stay,” Cheryl McKissack, who has served as chief operating officer since 2013 and will assume the role of CEO of the new publishing entity, told Journal-isms Wednesday by telephone.
McKissack was responding to a question about what she would like journalists to know. “Don’t believe everything you hear,” she continued. “We are solid going forward. We hope to continue to provide more opportunities for journalists, especially black journalists.
“We hope to be able to offer those in a variety of different platforms.”
Robert Channick reported Wednesday for the Chicago Tribune, “Johnson Publishing will retain its Fashion Fair Cosmetics business and its historic Ebony photo archives, which remains up for sale. The deal, which closed in May, also included the assumption of debt.”
Linda Johnson Rice, chairman of Johnson Publishing and daughter of founders John H. and Eunice W. Johnson, said in an e-mailed statement, “This deal allows JPC to reduce its debt associated with the media business and focus its attention on the archives — and continue to invest in its cosmetics business, Fashion Fair Cosmetics.
“Fashion Fair Cosmetics is currently the only African American owned prestige cosmetics company specifically developed for women of color.
“This is the next chapter in retaining the legacy that my father, John H. Johnson, built to ensure the celebration of African Americans. I am pleased to continue as Chairman of Johnson Publishing Company and serve as Chairman Emeritus and member of the board of the new African American led media entity, Ebony Media Operations.”
Channick also wrote, “The new publishing entity, Ebony Media Operations, will maintain the magazine’s Chicago headquarters and its New York editorial office, as well as much of the current staff, according to Michael Gibson, co-founder and chairman of African-American-owned Clear View Group.
“It is the first investment in the publishing business for Clear View. . . .”
Desiree Rogers, the business executive and former White House social secretary who became CEO of Johnson Publishing in 2010, is to remain in that post, focusing her time on Fashion Fair Cosmetics.
Rogers told Journal-isms that it was “fantastic” that the company was sold to an African American firm.
Other black-owned media properties such as Essence magazine, now part of Time Inc., and Black Entertainment Television, now part of Viacom, were sold to larger white-owned conglomerates as their owners contended that the larger firms would give them access to greater resources.
By contrast, at John H. Johnson’s funeral in 2005, broadcasters Tavis Smiley and Tom Joyner explicitly cited Johnson’s role in keeping his business black-owned. “He was unapologetically black,” Smiley said.
McKissack said it was “extremely important” to sell to an African American firm “because there are not enough African American-owned companies out there left to tell our story. I am thrilled that the company is 100 percent African American-owned.”
Gibson, 59, told the Tribune, “We made this purchase because this is an iconic brand — it’s the most-recognized brand in the African-American community. We just think this is a great opportunity for us.”
He also said, “Growing up, we had Ebony and Jet in our household all along. You knew you made it when you made it to the cover of Ebony or Jet. It is just exciting — I pinch myself every morning.”
Gibson and his partner, Houston entrepreneur Willard Jackson, started Clear View only a year and a half ago, Gibson told Journal-isms by telephone. He previously ran Advantis Healthcare Solutions, a personnel company. He and Jackson became aware of the opportunity to buy the Johnson publications in January through an investment firm. “Over the course of a few months, we were able to put together a really good deal,” he said.
The Tribune reported that Gibson also said Ebony would “remain in print for the foreseeable future. At the same time, he recognizes the need to ramp up digital growth.”
” ‘There’s a lot of good reasons to keep the print,’ Gibson said. ‘That will always be our anchor. We want to grow the digital platform more consistently with both Ebony and Jet.’ . . . ”
McKissack said digital platforms would be a priority, along with special events such as the Power 100, the Ebony Black Hollywood event, the Women Up Empowerment series and the HBCU online campus queens competition. Ebony is looking for a broadcast partner for the Power 100 held in Los Angeles on Dec. 1, she said.
Greg Dool reported for Folio:, “Not remaining after the transition will be Ebony editor-in-chief Kierna Mayo, who tweeted that she’s moving on to become SVP of content and brands for digital publisher Interactive One. She’ll be replaced by Kyra Kyles, who had been VP and head of digital editorial for both Ebony and Jet since her promotion from editorial director of Jet a year ago.”
The debt that Ebony’s owners will assume does not involve J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., McKissack said. In 2011, Johnson Publishing sold a minority stake to J.P. Morgan Chase. That investment stays with Johnson Publishing, she said.
- Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: With Ebony/Jet sale, one legacy ends as another begins
DuJuan McCoy, one of a tiny number of African American television station owners, is buying two stations in Lafayette, La., from Nexstar Broadcasting Co. for $40 million, a development hailed Tuesday by the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters as “another positive development for African American television station ownership.”
“NABOB is also pleased because this makes DuJuan McCoy — the owner and operator of Bayou, and member of the NABOB Board of Directors — a multiple station operator,” James L. Winston, NABOB president, said in a statement.
“In January, 2015, Mr. McCoy purchased WEVV-CBS and FOX D2 and WEEV-LD FOX in Evansville, Indiana, from Nexstar. That Mr. McCoy is making his second purchase from Nexstar speaks well for Mr. McCoy and also for Perry Sook, CEO of Nexstar.
“Mr. McCoy said, ‘Perry Sook, CEO of Nexstar should be commended for his continued and conscious effort to improve the dearth of ownership of broadcast TV stations by women and minorities. By doing so, he is helping the FCC further its diversity initiatives while at the same time setting a great example for other broadcasters — large or small, to take note and join his efforts to help self-regulate an endemic industry problem.’ ”
Reporting on the development May 27 for WEVV-TV, news director Warren Korff wrote, “WEVV had no news operation until Bayou City purchased the station. Now it produces 51 hours of local news per week.
“Bayou City’s purchase of the stations in Louisiana still needs FCC approval. The deal is expected to close prior to the end of the year.”
In 2014, the Federal Communications Commission reported that blacks or African Americans owned nine full-power commercial television stations (0.6 percent) [PDF] in 2013, Hispanic or Latino persons owned 42 (3.0 percent), American Indian or Alaska Natives owned 11 (0.8 percent) and Asians owned 19 stations (1.4 percent).
On May 25, a federal appeals court vacated an FCC prohibition against companies controlling two or more TV stations in the same local market by using a single advertising sales staff, a decision praised as facilitating more ownership by entrepreneurs of color because it eased their financial burden.
However, Winston praised McCoy’s purchase as not needing this boost. “Unlike several recent transactions in which African American owners have purchased stations connected with larger media companies through joint sales agreements (JSAs) and/or shared services agreements (SSAs), the Bayou transaction is a completely independent transaction. Bayou will have no JSA or SSA agreements, and it has obtained its financing independently with no loan guarantees from a major broadcaster,” he wrote.
David A. Wilson and Dan Woolsey, who founded theGrio.com as one of the first sites to target African Americans and be owned by a major media company, have sold the site again, their company announced on Tuesday.
A product of NBC at its 2009 founding by NBC, then sold in 2014 back to Wilson and Woolsey, its new owner is Byron Allen, a television entrepreneur and former comedian and performer who served as co-host of NBC’s “Real People,” an early reality show.
Allen formed Entertainment Studios in 1993 and produced such programs as “Comics Unleashed” and the sitcoms “Mr. Box Office” and “The First Family.” The studios include such digital channels as Justice Central, Cars.TV and Comedy.TV.
The purchase price was not disclosed.
“We are excited to have TheGrio join Byron Allen’s ever-expanding Entertainment Studios media empire,” Wilson said in a news release. “Byron shares our vision of growing TheGrio into the leading video content creator and distribution platform for African-Americans. We look forward to developing the next iteration of TheGrio, and the fact that it will remain 100 percent African American-owned is very significant.”
Allen said in the release, “David Wilson and his founding partner Dan Woolsey have done an incredible job these past 7 years building TheGrio, and we are one thousand percent committed to continue expanding this digital news community’s reach across all global media platforms, including our broadcast television syndication programs, cable television networks, and motion picture division.
“We plan on investing heavily in digital publishing, and TheGrio has an excellent management team, making it the perfect asset to start our portfolio of online publishing.”
TheGrio.com ranked 11th on a list of African American-oriented websites submitted to the comScore, Inc., research firm to determine their popularity in 2015. TheGrio.com had 1,645,000 average monthly unique visitors.
Allen has been battling cable operators over diversity issues.
Daniel Frankel wrote April 7 for fiercecable.com:
“Allen is accusing operators including Charter and Comcast of sun-shining the important issue of program diversity. Instead of signing carriage deals with worthy, independent programmers which are 100 percent owned by African-American interests, he said, operators are choosing to carry channels like Aspire and Revolt, which are merely backed by one or several prominent African-American personalities, serving primarily as figureheads.
“Last week, Allen followed his $20 billion suit against Comcast over this issue with a complaint to the FCC, accusing the cable company of not living up to the FCC’s 2011 diversity mandates that were tied to approval of the NBCUniversal merger.
“Comcast, in turn, accused Allen of playing the race card to get carriage for his channels . . .”
- Zachary Kiesch, WNYW-TV New York: The Grio’s mission and future under new ownership (video)
Jacinto “Jay” Torres Hernandez, a freelance journalist and real estate agent who was active in the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, was found dead Monday in Garland, Texas, Garland police reported on Wednesday.
Police are investigating the death as a homicide.
“Hernandez was a real estate agent and a frequent contributor for almost two decades to La Estrella, the Star-Telegram’s Spanish-language publication. His byline was Jay Torres,” Domingo Ramirez Jr. reported Wednesday for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
“ ‘His dedication, devotion and passion for journalism will always be remembered by all. He was a person who always focused on covering the Hispanic community in a full, objective and professional manner,’ said Juan Antonio Ramos, executive editor of La Estrella. ‘But his death also leaves a gap, a huge vacuum for the wonderful friendship that he always gave to so many people. His love for his family, his dedication to his work, his affection for his friends, that’s something we will always have with us.’ . . .”
“On Monday, June 13, at approximately 7:30pm, Garland Police responded to the report a man found dead in the 4200 block of Mayflower Dr.,” police said in a news release. “Officers arrived and observed the body of a man in the backyard of the residence. It appeared that the body had been there for multiple days.
“Garland Detectives were called to investigate and began working with the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s office to determine the cause of death. The victim was identified as 56 year old Jacinto Torres Hernandez of Dallas.
“On Tuesday June 14, the Medical Examiner informed detectives that Hernandez died from a gunshot wound. Garland Investigators are working the death as a murder.
“Police are asking for anyone who may have information concerning the death of Jacinto Torres Hernandez to contact the Garland Police Department. Tips can also be submitted to Garland Crime Stoppers at 972-272- 8477 (TIPS) or garlandcrimestoppers.org.”
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists added, “Chapter president Karina Ramirez said this in a message to her members: ‘He was someone that made our organization one of the best NAHJ chapters in the country. Jay gave much of his time, passion, love, and devotion to HCDFW’s mission… I could always count on him. He would never want to turn away anything I asked him to do.’ ”
“The nightclub attack in Orlando that left 49 victims dead was initially described by some news organizations, including The Associated Press, as the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history,” Deepti Hajela and Felicia Fonseca wrote Wednesday for the Associated Press.
“In truth, America has seen even bigger massacres, some involving hundreds of men, women and children.
“Here’s a look at the country’s violent past and how the Florida rampage fits in . . . .”
Many in the news media were continuing to call the Orlando massacre “the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history” as recently as Wednesday’s “NBC Nightly News” and Thursday’s “CBS This Morning.” Mark Memmott, NPR standards & practices editor, more accurately — and emphatically — instructed NPR journalists instead to refer to the”deadliest” shooting in “recent” U.S. history.
Still, a story headlined, “Orlando nightclub shootings: Images capture worst mass shooting in U.S. history” was the second-most popular story Wednesday on the website of Orlando’s WESH-TV, and a Google search for “worst mass shooting in American history” early Thursday garnered about 257,000 results.
“Sometimes, we in the business work a little too hard to make the grotesque more dramatic,” Bob Collins wrote Tuesday for Minnesota Public Radio. “That’s why we have phrases like ‘brutal murders.’ The drama makes us care a little more, I suspect the thinking goes. As if nearly 50 people being shot to death needs just a little boost to establish its place in our conscience, let alone history. . . .”
- ‘Biggest Mass Shooting in U.S. History’ — Not (June 13)
- Ariela Gross, Wall Street Journal: Orlando Mass Shooting Not Deadliest in American History
- Shaun King, Daily News, New York: Calling Orlando worst mass shooting in American history ignores nation’s violent, racist past
As reported in this space on Monday, “Philadelphia’s WTXF-TV announced on its website Monday, ‘We are sending our thoughts and prayers to our own 20-year-old Patience Carter, who was in the Pulse nightclub when Omar Mateen started shooting.
“The gunman shot her in the leg. According to FOX 29 HR Director Megan Young, Patience was in surgery until 12:30 a.m. early Monday morning. When Megan spoke with Patience she sounded very weak.
“We’ve gotten to know Patience because as an Emma Bowen Foundation scholar, she is interning here during all four years of school, and this is her second summer. She is currently a student at NYU.
“We look forward to a speedy recovery and Patience’s return to FOX 29.
“Sadly, Patience’s friend, Akyra Murray, did not survive the shooting.”
On Tuesday, Carter was among survivors of the shooting who spoke with the news media. CBS News reported:
“Patience Carter went to Orlando with a friend’s family on vacation, and ended up one of the few surviving witnesses to the last moments of the worst mass shooting in American history.
“Carter, 20 years old, had fled into the bathroom of Pulse nightclub during the Orlando massacre, and as the situation was winding down, she said the gunman told police negotiators on the phone that he pledged his allegiance to ISIS, and that he wouldn’t stop his assault until America stopped bombing his country.
“The New York-born shooter, Omar Mateen, had two parents from Afghanistan.
“Carter said after he hung up the phone, he ‘started speaking in Arabic,’ but she said she wasn’t sure to whom, and then he had a question for the others cowering in earshot.
” ‘Are there any black people in here?’ Mateen asked, according to Carter.
“She said she was too afraid to reply, but another black person hiding in the bathroom did.
” ‘I don’t have a problem with black people,’ Mateen reportedly said in reply. ‘This is about my country. You guys suffered enough.’ [Black people were nevertheless among the victims.]
“Pulse was attacked on Latin night, and many of those killed were from Puerto Rico, although there are other ethnicities among the dead.
“Carter described a bloody scene in the bathroom of Pulse nightclub, where survivors had sought refuge from the rampage that started out in the club, only to find themselves locked in with Mateen just before police breached a wall to get at him.
“As she was lying on the floor looking over the ‘piles’ of bloody bodies in the bathroom, she said she ‘made peace with God and within myself.’
“Carter said she asked God to take her away so the pain would stop. . . .”
- Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: What happened in Orlando was ‘American Beauty’ — times 49
- Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: How do we stop ISIS from turning Americans against Americans?
- Leah Donnella, NPR “Code Switch”: What Queer Muslims Are Saying About The Orlando Shooting
- James Downs, Daily News: Stop saying Omar Mateen was gay: Regardless of his proclivities, the claim feeds old notions that homosexuality is a disorder
- Kevin Eck, TVSpy: Orlando Station Says Gunman Called During Pulse Nightclub Attack
- Lynn Elber, Associated Press: Orlando Gunman’s Face, Name Become Journalism Challenge
- Adrian Florido, NPR: Shooting Victim Had Recently Moved To Orlando From Chicago (audio) (June 16)
- Chava Gourarie, Columbia Journalism Review: The fundamental dilemma of covering the Orlando shooting
- Ericka Cruz Guevarra, NPR “Code Switch”: What Queer Latinos Are Saying About The Orlando Shooting
- Kristen Hare, Poynter Institute: How the Orlando Sentinel, with a third of the staff it once had, covered the country’s deadliest mass shooting
- Errol Louis, Daily News, New York: After Orlando, adults wanted: We need a mature conversation about gun regulations, radicalization and protecting gays and lesbians
- Courtland Milloy, Washington Post: Let’s find out where the killer mind-set comes from, not just the killer’s gun
- Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Our war on terror is clouded by fog and noise
- Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: The Orlando massacre, only in America
- NPR “Code Switch”: How LGBTQ People of Color Are Dealing With Orlando (podcast) (June 16)
- Xorje Olivares, Out: My Queer Latino Heart Aches for Orlando Victims
- Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: After Orlando massacre, is simple decency from our leaders too much to ask?
- Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press: President Obama has just this one more thing to do
- Geraldo Rivera, Fox News Latino: Omar Mateen shattered our optimism, scarred our national soul
- Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Assault weapons must be banned in America
- Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: Orlando nightclub massacre provides another painful, telling test for America
- Barry Saunders, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: Pulse’s pain is personal for Raleigh man who used to work there
“Donald Trump in a speech on Monday suggested that all Muslim immigrants pose potential threats to America’s security and called for a ban on migrants from any part of the world with ‘a proven history of terrorism’ against the United States or its allies,” Sabri Ben-Achour reported Tuesday for American Public Media’s “Marketplace.”
“This is a rejection of the pluralism so central to the American experience. Beyond that, it has a significant practical expense.
“According to the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office, 1.2 million human beings visited the U.S. from the Middle East in 2013. They spent, collectively, $6.7 billion ($2,000 more per capita than European visitors). So that’s $6.7 billion you can subtract from the U.S. economy right there. . . .
“Projecting Middle Eastern Muslim tourism and spending onto the larger Muslim world, we get a Muslim tourist-spend in the U.S. closer to $18 billion. This is how others have estimated spending as well.
“That’s just tourism.
“There’s education, too. Trump’s plan would ban at a minimum the 153,586 students from majority Muslim countries who came here in 2015 (that number is based on data from the Institute of International Education tabulated for all Muslim majority countries by Marketplace).
Ben-Achour continued, “Our grand back-of-the-envelope estimate so far is $24 billion that you can shave off the U.S. economy by banning all Muslims from entering. That’s not counting contributions from all the Muslims on work visas with jobs in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. . . .”
- Jenice Armstrong, Philadelphia Daily News: Black frat, Kappa Alpha Psi, targets Trump over attacks on ‘Mexican’ judge
- Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: One year ago, Trump descended that escalator and took political discourse down with him
- Louis Chan, AsAmNews: Donald Trump Influencing Attitudes about Incarceration of Japanese Americans
- Jelani Cobb, New Yorker: Donald Trump’s Anti-American Values
“Eight years after the Great Recession sent the U.S. newspaper industry into a tailspin, the pressures facing America’s newsrooms have intensified to nothing less than a reorganization of the industry itself,” the Pew Research Center reported Wednesday in announcing its “State of the News Media 2016.
“In 2015, the newspaper sector had perhaps the worst year since the recession and its immediate aftermath, according to Pew Research Center’s 2016 State of the News Media report, which analyzes the status of the organizations that produce the news and make it available to the public day in and day out.
“Average weekday newspaper circulation, print and digital combined, fell another 7% in 2015, the greatest decline since 2010. Sunday circulation fell 4%. While digital circulation crept up slightly (2% for weekday), it accounts for only 22% of total circulation. And any digital subscription gains or traffic increases have still not translated into game-changing revenue solutions. In 2015, total advertising revenue among publicly traded companies declined nearly 8%, including losses not just in print but in digital as well. . . .”
A news release also reported:
“The Hispanic news media market is in a state of flux. Hispanic print weeklies saw some circulation growth, but the major Hispanic dailies all declined, and the largest TV network’s news programs lost both audience and revenue.
“After many mainstream English-language news organizations crowded into the Hispanic market over the past decade, often by launching separate Hispanic-oriented outlets, they hit hurdles in 2014, including the closing of both NBCLatino.com and CNN Latino. In 2015, MundoFox’s news division shuttered when Fox sold its stake in the venture.
“African American-oriented news media — one of the long-standing minority news genres in the U.S. — showed little substantive change in 2015. The number of black newspapers remained steady at roughly 200, though there is evidence of further audience decline.
“In U.S. newsrooms overall, the portion of full-time daily newspaper jobs filled by blacks showed no change from 2014, while in broadcast, the percentage of television newsroom jobs filled by blacks remained steady at about 5%. Nonetheless, concerns about newsroom diversity figured prominently in media headlines throughout 2015. . . .”
“The 20% of Americans who are confident in newspapers as a U.S. institution hit an all-time low this year, marking the 10th consecutive year that more Americans express little or no, rather than high, confidence in the institution,” Lydia Saad reported Monday for Gallup.
“The percentage of Americans expressing ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of confidence in newspapers has been dwindling since 2000, and the percentage expressing ‘very little’ or ‘none’ finally eclipsed it in 2007. The percentage with low confidence has only expanded since, tying a previous high of 36%.
“One in five U.S. adults now say they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in newspapers — the all-time low for newspapers in Gallup’s trend dating to 1973. An additional 42% of U.S. adults say they have ‘some’ confidence, meaning that the institution still sparks at least a measure of confidence in a majority of Americans.
“However, the days when more than twice as many Americans expressed high rather than low confidence in newspapers are long gone. . . .”
- Sidmel Estes, president of the National Association of Black Journalists from 1991 to 1993, will be honored posthumously with the 2016 Ida B. Wells Award, NABJ and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University announced on Tuesday. The award goes to “an individual who has provided distinguished leadership in increasing access and opportunities to people of color in journalism, and in improving the coverage of communities of color in American media. . . .” Estes, a former executive television producer for WAGA-TV in Atlanta, where she worked for 27 years, died at 60 on Oct. 5 after being treated for internal bleeding from ulcers.
- “Univision has been the most important Spanish-language media company in the U.S. Now its digital news arm is taking aim at the 500 million Spanish speakers around the world,” James Breiner reported June 7 for the International Journalists’ Network. “Borja Echevarria, its digital editor-in-chief, says his team is at the beginning of an initiative aimed at Spanish speakers in Latin America and globally. . . .”
- “The Center for Investigative Reporting has been awarded a $900,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to expand its reporting on inequities related to race, gender and economics that affect working families and launch a fellowship for journalists of color,” the foundation announced Thursday. “The three-year grant also will support academic research into workplace disparities and create opportunities for public engagement, including through the production of two original one-act plays by CIR’s StoryWorks. . . .” [Added June 16]
- “Journalist and author Ismael Cala tonight spent the last 14 minutes of his primetime show ‘Cala’ on CNN en Español to announce he is leaving the network after 15 years to focus on his personal growth, reinvention and independent projects,” Veronica Villafañe reported Tuesday for her Media Moves site. She quoted Cala saying, “News used to be the center of my life. Today, my mission has changed. I’m no longer interested in finding journalism exclusives, but that’s the essence of a program like this.”
- “When people think of the largest immigrant groups in the U.S., Mexicans and Chinese usually come to mind. But changing immigration patterns have already led to a major demographic shift in America that has not yet been widely reported,” Zara Zhi reported Wednesday for AsAmNews. “According to recent census data, immigrants from Asia constitute the fastest growing immigrant group, outpacing Latinos. . . . one group in particular has been leading the rest — Indians. . . .”
- “The New York Times has sparked an international incident by publishing an op-ed article under the byline of a foreign official who never agreed to it, according to his supporters,” Paul Farhi reported Saturday for the Washington Post. “The newspaper this week blundered into the bloody politics of South Sudan, the fledgling east African nation, by posting a column ostensibly written by that country’s president and first vice president, Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, respectively. The column argues for an internal, government-led ‘truth and reconciliation’ commission to investigate atrocities stemming from South Sudan’s two-year civil war rather than an international war-crimes tribunal that was part of a peace agreement brokered by the United States and Great Britain last year. Only one problem: Machar’s supporters say that he didn’t sign on to the editorial and doesn’t agree with it. . . .”
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