Ebony magazine, sustaining circulation and advertising losses despite injections of new blood and a new look launched in 2009, unveiled what it called a "cover-to-cover, page by page" redesign for its April issue and promised to meet the circulation figure it has guaranteed advertisers by the June issue.

Rodrigo A. Sierra, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the parent Johnson Publishing Co., also told Journal-isms that the company was close to hiring a new editor for Jet magazine, had requested proposals Friday to redesign its online presence and was hoping to revive the fabled Ebony Fashion Fair show, "though it won't be in 2011. There is too much work to do and [we want to] do it the right way."

In addition to helping local community groups and charities, the Ebony Fashion Fair boosted the circulation of Ebony and Jet. Those who bought a ticket received a subscription to one of the magazines, though that won't necessarily be the case if the fair is revived.

About the magazine, an announcement Friday said, "EBONY magazine has evolved for a new generation. With the goal of reaching a new generation of readers, the brand that represents the absolute best of Black America has taken it to a new level, beginning with its April 2011 issue . . .

"The top-to-bottom redesign introduces a stylish evolution of EBONY’s classic logo, four distinct and exciting new editorial departments, and a new design. The redesigned EBONY promises to entertain, inspire and inform its more than 11 million monthly readers as it highlights issues in a way that will ignite conversation and empower communities."

Declining circulation and advertising pages, however, suggest that many of Ebony's problems have been on the business side.

"Ebony missed its guaranteed rate base of 1.25 million by an average of 6.5% in the second half of 2009, 10.8% in the first half of 2010 and 20.2% in the second half of 2010, according to its statements with the Audit Bureau of Circulations," Nat Ives reported Friday for Advertising Age. The rate base is the circulation guaranteed advertisers.

"It places most of the blame on its prior circulation management, which it says it has improved by outsourcing it to circulation veterans last October. Their diagnosis found insufficient direct-mail campaigns" that failed to reach out to readers to extend their subscriptions, Ives wrote.

"If you're not constantly reaching out and asking people to come back on, they fall off," Sierra said in the piece.

Last year saw advertising dollars for Ebony and Jet decline more steeply than for other magazines targeting African Americans or Hispanics that are tracked by the Publishers Information Bureau. The decline was 11.2 percent for Ebony and 20.8 percent for Jet.

However, Sierra said, "We're starting to see the turnaround" and added that when readers and advertisers "take note of the change in the look and feel" of the publication, they'll see "that we have a real powerful story to tell advertisers."

The redesign was chiefly the work of Amy DuBois Barnett, hired as Ebony editor-in-chief in June. Darhil Crooks, art director at Esquire, joined in January as creative director.

"This is everything from introducing an evolution of our 65-year-old logo to really taking apart every single page in the magazine and putting it back together with an eye to the brand pillars that we now think best reflect our target demographic," Barnett told AdAge.

On the business side, Stephen Gregory Barr, the former publisher of OK magazine, is in his second week as senior vice president and group publisher. He is based in Johnson Publishing Co. offices at Radio City in Manhattan to be closer to the advertising industry.

Both report to CEO Desiree Rogers, former White House social secretary and friend of Chairman Linda Johnson Rice. Rice "is involved every step of the way" in the redesign, Sierra said.

He also said the company is making progress on its digital and social media efforts.

"It has been a progression, just like the social media outlets ... but the biggest leap for ebony.com has been just in the last month," he said.

"Through a focused effort at ensuring fresh content on the site and by tweeting and posting on [Facebook] links and messages back to the site, we went from about 150,000 weekly page views to more than 225,000 weekly page views in February.

"Similarly, we were at less than 1000 Twitter followers in August 2010 for @ebonymag. We steadily increased that month-by-month to just over 4,000 in early January. Today we crossed the 6000 followers threshold," he said by e-mail.

Sierra said he envisions the websites as repositories for Johnson's historic photo archives, which might provide a lucrative advertising environment.

Asked whether all the activity might mean additional jobs for journalists, he said, "Someone's got to provide content for the website," though he said employees would create most of it.

"The public remains deeply frustrated with the federal government, but fewer Americans say they are angry at government than did so last fall," the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported on Thursday. "Overall, the percentage saying they are angry with the federal government has fallen from 23% last September to 14% today, with much of the decline coming among Republicans and Tea Party supporters."

Racially, the decline comes among whites, according to Michael Dimock of the Pew Center. The anger level among that group stood at 23 percent last year but declined to 14 percent this year, while remaining at 12 percent for non-Hispanic blacks and 17 percent for Hispanics.

The poll of 1,504 people, including 144 non-Hispanic blacks and 127 Hispanics, found that 62 percent of blacks had no opinion about the Tea Party, with 3 percent agreeing with the movement and 32 percent disagreeing. In the general population, the figure was 25 percent agreeing, 24 percent disagreeing and 50 percent having no opinion.

President Obama registered an 86 percent approval rating among non-Hispanic blacks, 64 percent among Hispanics and 42 percent among non-Hispanic whites. (PDF)

Cheryl Imelda Hampton, director of journalism recruiting at NPR, is leaving the network on March 11 after 13 years, she told colleagues on Wednesday.

"Like almost everyone at NPR, I’m a mission-driven person. I was a huge fan of NPR before I ever came here, and now I’m surveying my passions so that my next step can be for another purpose I really care about. My tool box of NPR skills is overflowing — and I’m open to new ways of using my talents in my next post. Maybe it will be journalism, maybe recruiting, maybe even marketing and communications – a field I’ve gained valuable experience in during my time here," she said.

Jeffrey Dvorkin, then NPR's vice president of news and information, told Current magazine in 1998 that he hired Hampton from the Orange County (Calif.) Register that year in part because of her "strong commitment to affirmative action and equity in hiring."

"She leads the group charged with recruiting and retaining NPR’s journalists, who are based in 21 places around the country and 18 more around the world. She supervises the division’s administrative staff and advises the vice president on personnel and policy issues. In addition, from 2004-2007, Hampton developed and implemented the strategy which revitalized NPR libraries and significantly increased online services to staff."

Hampton said in her farewell memo, "A big part of my job was to get the best and brightest journalists into our newsroom. As I look back on my career, I’m proud of what the people I brought into NPR have accomplished."

"The American Society of News Editors is coordinating two working sessions on diversity in the news business — one in conjunction with its annual convention in San Diego in April and another concurrent with the annual convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in Orlando in June," ASNE announced on Thursday.

"The sessions, entitled Leadership in Diversity: New Models for Growing Audience, Talent and Revenues, will involve more than 100 top news, digital and business executives, and selected non-news executives whose companies have executed successful efforts to reach communities of color.

". . . Participants will leave both of these two-day sessions having worked with and learned from media and nonmedia company executives about the business advantage of increasing audiences of color, and with new information and tools about how to reach those new audiences.

". . . While the sessions are being convened by ASNE, partners in the planning process are the leaders of several newspapers and news organizations, including the Associated Press Managing Editors, the Newspaper Association of America, The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, The Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, Unity: Journalists of Color, and its member associations.

". . . ASNE members who would like to participate in the sessions should contact Walt Swanston, wswanston@asne.org or 703-402-0955, by March 11."

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Journal-isms is originally published on journal-isms.com. Reprinted on The Root by permission.