Linda Johnson Rice is finally bringing in the big guns to turn around the battle to save Johnson Publishing. Former White House social secretary and longtime friend Desiree Rogers is working in a consultancy position with the company "to assist with corporate strategy," says Wendy Parks, a spokeswoman for the publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines. JPC's president and COO Anne Sempowski Ward is on maternity leave, according to Parks.
This comes on the heel of news Wednesday that Amy DuBois Barnett has been named editor-in-chief of Ebony, taking over from creative director and acting editor-in-chief Harriette Cole, who is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.
It's no surprise that Rogers is settling into a role that's close to home since leaving her high-profile position in the Obama Administration under the cloud of the November 2009 Salahis gatecrasher fiasco at the White House state dinner for India's prime minister, and complaints that she kept too-high a profile. As The Root reported back in March, Rogers was still likely to receive a warm reception from her hometown crowd in Chicago, where she has long reigned as a socialite, fundraiser, and corporate power broker.
The benefit of Rogers' counsel and connections come at a time when Johnson Publishing, the world's largest African-American owned and operated publishing company, has battled against steep advertising declines — like much of print media. The company has been seeking a buyer, but advanced talks with Earvin "Magic" Johnson "to do business together" fell apart, the sports legend and entrepreneur confirmed in February. Rice, who is JPC's chairman and CEO, denied at the time that the company had talked to Magic "with respect to his interest in buying" the company.
—Written by The Root Editorial Staff