Last Editor to Work With John H. Johnson Leaves Ebony Magazine

In a historic week for Johnson Publishing Co., Jet publishes its last print edition, and Ebony loses the last editor who worked with the company’s founder.

New America Media, 2010
New America Media, 2010

Historic Week for Company With Jet’s Last Print Edition

The end of the print edition of Jet magazine this week is only one piece of history taking place at the parent Johnson Publishing Co. In assembling a new team for Ebony magazine, of which she is now editor, former Jet editor Mitzi Miller is proceeding without the last remaining editor to have worked with the company’s late namesake, John H. Johnson.

Desirée Rogers, Johnson Publishing Co. CEO, confirmed that Margena A. Christian, Ebony senior editor, and Shirley Henderson, Ebony copy editor, are leaving the company. Others are reported to be departing as well. As all new editors do, “She’s building the team,” Rogers said of Miller.

Miller is bringing from Jet Wendy Wilson as managing editor, Deanna Martin-Osuagwu as copy chief and S. Tia Brown as entertainment editor.

Christian told Journal-isms by email, “During JPC’s major reorganization in 2009, I was transitioned from Jet as a Features Editor to EBONY as a Senior Writer. . . . Prior to that time, I was an Assistant Editor and Associate Editor at Jet where I worked under the guidance of its pioneering publisher, John H. Johnson.

“I was the only editor still standing who worked with John H. Johnson. I was also the only editor in the company’s history to have worked with EBONY, Jet, EBONY Man, EBONY South Africa, and Ebony Fashion Fair, where I wrote the history about the show. I was also the only person in the company’s history to have earned a doctorate, completing a dissertation about John H. Johnson. I am proud of my accomplishments because I worked full time, worked two part-time adjunct English positions but still earned my doctorate in three years!!! I’ve been an adjunct English professor with the City Colleges of Chicago since 1997.

“So, what’s next for me? After having my position eliminated due to budget cuts on May 30, I hit the ground running the following week. I delivered two presentations at Penn State during the Adult Education Research Conference and its African Diaspora Pre-Conference. I look forward to sharing my research with the world in a book.

“The world must never forget that a man named John H. Johnson walked this earth and believed in his people enough to tell all of our stories. He loved being Black and didn’t mind saying it loud and being proud! Black is beautiful and John H. Johnson reminded us of this weekly and monthly. I am blessed to have known and worked with such a giant. I will continue teaching at the collegiate level, which is why I felt compelled to earn my doctorate. With my DocM.A.C.write Consulting, I’ve started editing work on dissertations and plan to do some freelance writing.”

Johnson Publishing Co. announced last month that Jet, a staple in black homes, beauty parlors and barber shops since 1951, would end print publication at the end of June and become a digital magazine app. The final print edition went on sale on Monday.

Rogers said Jet sells about 85,000 or 90,000 copies on newsstands, about 20 or 30 percent of its circulation. The company did not print additional souvenir copies or have time to promote the final issue to gain additional advertisers. “We hope to have [fewer] of them returned,” Rogers said by telephone.