Essence Founder: I'd Sell to Time Inc. Again

Edward Lewis Dismissive of Fired Editor's Complaints

Edward Lewis, one of the principal founders of Essence magazine, told Journal-isms Monday that he "absolutely" would again sell the publication to Time Inc. regardless of the complaints of fired editor-in-chief Constance C.R. White and readers who support her.


"It's very difficult for any size magazine to be standing out here alone without some other support elsewhere," Lewis said by telephone, adding that the magazine business has faced the additional challenges of changing technology and a punishing recession since he sold Essence to Time Inc. in 2005.

However, another founder, Jonathan Blount, wrote in a message posted on the website Naturally Moi that he stands with White and that Essence had strayed from his vision.

White disclosed in this column Friday that her departure as editor-in-chief of Essence magazine, made public Feb. 8, was involuntary and the result of repeated clashes with Martha Nelson, the editor-in-chief of Time Inc. who White says sought to limit the way black women were portrayed.

"I went in there with passion and excitement and high expectations," White told Journal-isms, referring to her 2011 hiring. "It wasn't what I expected at all."

However, Lewis, 72, senior adviser at Solera Capital, a private equity and venture capital firm, backed Time Inc. "To change the voice, I don't think would make any sense. They don't have a clue about African Americans. That's where we came in, and where we have come in for 43 years," the length of time Essence has published.

The proof that Time and Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications Inc., are getting it right, Lewis said, is in the magazine's million-plus circulation and in the success of the Essence Festival, now in its 19th year.


White said she had had repeated clashes with Nelson, who is white, but Lewis said Marcia Ann Gillespie, the editor-in-chief from 1971 to 1980 who assisted in the search for editor-in-chief when White was named, "was a major consultant" for Nelson and White during her tenure. The announcement of White's appointment also named Gillespie as special projects director.

White's story generated sympathetic comments on African American-oriented websites over the weekend, with many saying she had confirmed their fears about what has happened to the magazine under white ownership. Some urged White to start her own publication. The sentiments about selling out to white corporate ownership were similarly voiced when Black Entertainment Television was sold to Viacom in 2000.


The phenomenon is not limited to media enterprises. In a cover story about the natural hair-care business in the current (January/February) issue of Black Enterprise, Tamara E. Holmes says of the makers of black hair-care products, "the black firms did not have the resources to compete with the monoliths and were eventually acquired by these firms and turned into divisions of the majority corporations. Today, most hair products for black consumers are no longer produced by black-owned companies . . . "

Among the top-selling publications targeting African Americans, only Johnson Publications' Ebony and Jet magazines and Black Enterprise, founded by Earl Graves Sr., remain black-owned. In 2009, Johnson Publishing announced that JPMorgan Chase's Special Investments Group would become an investor and part owner of the company, the first time in the company's then-69-year history that it would not be fully family-owned. However, CEO Desiree Rodgers told Journal-isms at the time that it was "very important that the company remain minority-owned."


Lewis also denied that longtime editor Susan L. Taylor had been pushed out, as White said, maintaining that Taylor and he were given severance contracts for the following three years. He added that Gordon Parks Sr., the famed photographer and early Essence editorial director, was not part of the magazine's DNA, as White asserted. "Gordon Parks really had nothing to do with it," Lewis said. Parks at one time unsuccessfully claimed control of the magazine.

Asked whether he had any advice for White, Lewis said, "She's got a wonderful resume and accomplishments. I hope she would continue to stay in the magazine business, and I wish her the best."


White did not respond to a request for comment.

In his messages on Naturally Moi and, Blount gave a brief history of the founding of the magazine and said:

"ESSENCE has not yet begun to be the leading International voice, conduit and amalgamation force of, for and about Black Women globally.

"I firmly believe that 'wherever Black America is going, Black Women are going to lead us.' I never wanted to be acquired by TIME Inc, I wanted to BE TIME Inc. I fought to the last minute to maintain Black majority control. It is still possible if Black women leaders, organizations and institutions will unite behind Susan Taylor and Constance White to buy back our freedom. Constance is to be applauded for her courageous stand. It is not the first but it should be and can be the last. There is much more to the story."


Eric Deggans, Daily Download: 21st Century Black Media: Must They Be Owned By Black People?

Doug Halonen, TVNewsCheck: Armstrong Looks To Build On WEYI-WWMB

Michael Learmonth, Ad Age: How Time Inc. Should Reinvent Itself as an Independent Publisher


Pepper Miller, Ad Age: Except for the Obamas, Where Are Black Couples in the Media?: Showing Love Is a Great Way to Reach the Black Community (Feb. 28)

On the Internet, does anyone know whether you’re black or Latino? (2011)

Black Enterprise Adds to Digital, Trims Two Months From Print Edition

Black Enterprise magazine is cutting its print editions from 12 to 10 issues a year as it shifts to an emphasis to its online editions, Alfred A. Edmond Jr., senior vice president/multimedia editor-at-large, told Journal-isms on Monday.


"All things being equal, we intend to deliver content across 10 print issues roughly equivalent to what we've delivered in 12 issues each year. The savings on printing and mailing two fewer issues each year is being shifted to our other media platforms, particularly digital, which has taken over from the print platform as a source of breaking news and delivers the responsiveness and interactivity our audience expects," Edmond said by email. "Those expectations can hardly be met by printed newspapers, much less by monthly or even weekly magazines."

Edmond was paraphrasing a letter to subscribers from Earl G. Graves Jr., president and CEO, in the January/February edition. Explaining why that issue is still on the newsstands, Edmond said, "One of the unavoidable consequences of preparing for and implementing these changes over the past year has been ongoing changes and disruptions of our production schedule, which has caused late production and delivery of our issues to newsstands and many subscribers for the past year."


Edmond went on, continuing the paraphrase, "Much of the content formerly delivered by our print platform is better suited for delivery via digital means, including our website, mobile and social media efforts; we will continue to shift resources accordingly.

"We are refocusing our magazine (including format and design changes introduced in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue) on content best suited to print periodicals, including more evergreen advice, exclusive lists and profiles, and less news-driven articles and resources, while creating stronger connections between the print product and our ongoing conversation with our audience on other platforms, especially social media and live events."


Graves told readers, "as a print magazine subscriber you are now entitled to an additional digital subscription to the all-new Black Enterprise iPad app at no extra charge, through our new All Access subscription program . . . In short, the subscription investment that once gave you access to just one platform now provides entree to all that we have to offer. . . . "

Black Enterprise had a circulation of 518,602 in June 2012, according to the Alliance for Audited Media, formerly the Audit Bureau of Circulations.


Detroit Papers Played Parts in Kwame Kilpatrick Saga

"Kwame Kilpatrick and contractor Bobby Ferguson headed straight to prison Monday, just hours after a federal jury found them guilty of running a criminal enterprise out of the Detroit mayor’s office," Robert Snell and Jim Lynch reported Monday for the Detroit News.


"Kilpatrick was found guilty of 24 counts of racketeering, extortion, conspiracy and bribery. Ferguson, a city contractor and his longtime friend, was found guilty of nine counts. Both men face up to 20 years or more in prison."

The Detroit newspapers could claim their share of credit.

A timeline published by the Detroit Free Press began with a Free Press report from Aug. 29, 2001, reporting that then-state Rep. Kilpatrick solicited a $50,000 contribution in 2000 from Jon Rutherford, president of a homeless shelter, to the nonprofit Kilpatrick Civic Fund.


There was Jan. 23-24, 2008: "Free Press publishes text messages showing that Kwame Kilpatrick and chief of staff Christine Beatty lied under oath in a police whistle-blower trial the previous fall."

When Kilpatrick resigned that year, Caesar Andrews, then executive editor of the Free Press, told Journal-isms, "It's one of those magic moments that really justifies so much of what we try to do. This shows what aggressive investigative reporting can yield when done the right way. It shows what can happen when you have highly skilled investigative reporters cut loose to do what they can do."


But, Andrews added, "Make no mistake about it. It is a sad day, at least from my perspective, when a person as deeply talented (as Kilpatrick) is forced to resign," even though he was "very proud" of the quality of work his staff performed.

On Monday, Walter Middlebrook, assistant managing editor — Metro at the Detroit News, told Journal-isms by email, "We've got the best blog going on the trial… and anyone who has read federal courts reporter Rob Snell's daily reports will tell you he has had the liveliest coverage of the trial in his daily blog. Look for yourself.


"We've had reporters double teaming and tag-teaming the trial from Day One with one reporter in the courtroom and Snell reporting from the media room.

"We've been planning for a while for this day.

"We literally form two reporting teams on stories like this — a breaking news team that then turns the story over to our print team. OK, we don't have that many people to have two teams but we have to think like we're two teams.


"First mission — get it online and put together an attractive package of stories. We had several stories/ideas ready to go for the verdict and we got them up as soon as we knew where things stood. It was a strong package of stories that got stronger as the day went one

"Second mission — working with the design desks and getting all of our stories into print.


"It was one of our better team efforts."

Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor of the Free Press, wrote, "It's tragic that the former mayor, who had such promise and potential, will see this city's future from a prison cell. But it's clear that the palpable energy and the focus around Detroit's rebirth is not hampered by his downfall.


"Let's be clear: The city still suffers horrific problems, and much of city government has fallen to a new low on the effectiveness scale. The looming state intervention to better manage the city's finances is eclipsed in importance only by the spectacular difficulties that Detroiters face every day with lighting, police response and other basic services.

"But just as Kilpatrick cannot be blamed for all of the trouble Detroit government now faces, he also hasn't stopped Detroiters from committing to something better. Even before city government comes around and functions for the benefit of the people who live here, the private and nonprofit sectors, as well as rank-and-file Detroiters themselves, have decided that things must move forward.


"Detroit is ready for a reset. . . . "

Michael Cottman, Black America Web: 'First Junior Jesse, Now Kwame. I Hope Ray Nagin is the Last,’ said Tom Joyner, Host of 'The Tom Joyner Morning Show'


Obama's Hispanic-Media Man Steps Down

"An Obama administration official credited with improving White House access for the burgeoning Hispanic news media is leaving his post," Lesley Clark reported Friday for McClatchy Newspapers.


"Luis Miranda, 36, who grew up in South Florida and staffed then-presidential candidate Al Gore's Miami-Dade campaign office, is stepping down to return to the private sector as a communications consultant. The White House's director of Hispanic media, Miranda is credited — within the White House and the Hispanic media — with helping to provide access not seen in previous administrations. The outreach came as the White House was courting the growing Hispanic vote, which helped President Barack Obama win re-election last fall.

" 'The Hispanic media too often has been treated as a distant second string,' said Cecilia Munoz, Obama's chief domestic policy adviser. 'Luis really has shepherded a new era of access.'


"That includes the first bilingual White House daily news briefing, as well as invitations to Hispanic TV anchors to the traditional off-the-record luncheons that Obama holds before big speeches, including his State of the Union address.

"Miranda said he’d viewed his position as an advocate for the administration, 'but also an advocate internally, finding opportunities to integrate Hispanic media into everything we do.' . . ."


Administration Rejects More Than Third of FOIA Requests

"The Obama administration answered more requests from the public to see government records under the Freedom of Information Act last year, but more often than it ever has it cited legal exceptions to censor or withhold the material, according to a new analysis by The Associated Press. It frequently cited the need to protect national security and internal deliberations," Jack Gillum and Ted Bridis reported Monday for the Associated Press.


"The AP's analysis showed the government released all or portions of the information that citizens, journalists, businesses and others sought at about the same rate as the previous three years. It turned over all or parts of the records in about 65 percent of all requests. It fully rejected more than one-third of requests, a slight increase over 2011, including cases when it couldn't find records, a person refused to pay for copies or the request was determined to be improper."

The story also said, "The AP’s analysis also found that the government generally took longer to answer requests. Some agencies, such as the Health and Human Services Department, took less time than the previous year to turn over files. But at the State Department, for example, even urgent requests submitted under a fast-track system covering breaking news or events when a person's life was at stake took an average two years to wait for files. . . ."


Amy Argetsinger, Washington Post: President Obama at elite Gridiron Club jokes about sequester, Biden, Rubio

Chris Cillizza, Washington Post: Read President Obama's remarks at the Gridiron Dinner


Earl Ofari Hutchinson, syndicated: Top Democrats [Blew It Badly] on Filibuster

Tom Joyner, Black America Web: Playing the Race Card — In Reverse

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Sen. Rand Paul due praise for anti-drone stance


Pew Research Center: After Fight Over CIA Director Ends, A Look at Public Opinion on Drones

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Rand Paul makes the right call with filibuster


Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas: Targeted killings have led to deadly practices in the past

Margaret Sullivan, New York Times: The Danger of Suppressing the Leaks

Sam Stein and Amanda Terkel, Huffington Post: The Sequester Cuts' Impact Goes Deeper Than White House Tours (VIDEO)


Christie Thompson, ProPublica: A Reading Guide on Obama's Latest Appointments

Are Black Journalists in Pipeline for Top Jobs?

"NABJ is celebrating the reported announcement that ABC News is planning to hire Byron Pitts from CBS," Gregory H. Lee Jr., president of the National Association of Black Journalists, wrote on the NABJ website. "We celebrate one of our brightest talents not only in our association, but also in the industry. However, looking deeper into the issue, there are a number of questions that can be asked in the aftermath, including:

"1. Does CBS News have any successors of color lined up to replace Pitts, whose duties included contributions to '60 Minutes?'


"2. Are there any black journalists in the pipeline at CBS to be promoted? Although critics will ask: 'Why does Pitts have to be replaced by a black journalist?' others will argue Pitts replaced the irreplaceable Ed Bradley.

"But why do these questions need to be asked? Shouldn't the question be: 'Why does CBS have only "one" position slotted for a black journalist at '60 Minutes?' Where is the professional development at CBS to properly prepare and position black journalists in these roles and create more opportunities?


"These questions are not posed only to CBS; they are posed to an industry that is accustomed to trading its select few black journalists around like they are baseball cards. It does not happen only in the broadcast industry. It happens also in print journalism. . . .

"There is no real leadership in our industry to fix our diversity shortage, though our nation's demographics are changing at a rapid pace. Sure, there are programs such as the Sports Journalism Institute and the Chips Quinn Scholars programs that help feed the pipeline, but there are leaks in those pipes as people fall out of the industry because of a lack of development opportunities. . . . "


Ronald E. Childs Named Chicago Defender Editor

Ronald E. Childs, a Chicago public relations man who has worked as a journalist and speechwriter, has been named executive editor of the Chicago Defender, Target Market News reported last week.


Detroit-based Real Times Media, which also owns the Michigan Chronicle, the New Pittsburgh Courier, the Memphis Tri-State Defender and the Michigan Front Page, all black weekies, fired Executive Editor Lou Ransom in 2011 amid financial problems.

Rhonda Gillespie, who had been laid off as news editor with Ransom, returned as managing editor late last year, Michael House, the Defender president, told Journal-isms in December. House said then he was looking to hire an executive editor and that four people remained on the editorial staff. The once-daily newspaper became a weekly publication in 2008.


Childs, 53, was founder and principal of OMEN Communications, a media relations firm, and spent 10 years at Flowers Communications Group, where he was vice president of media relations. From 1988 to 1991, he worked as a publicist for Johnson Publishing Co., and from 1990 to 1994 worked at Johnson's now-defunct EM — Ebony Man magazine, where he was associate editor.

If You Have to Ask About the Diversity, You're Not Doing It Right

Last month, Margaret Sullivan, public editor of the New York Times, said of the redesigned "T: The Times Style Magazine": "There was much to admire. But many readers found one aspect of the magazine disturbing — its lack of people of color. Indeed, there could be no argument; it was overwhelmingly white."


At a glance, the 138 pages of the latest edition, "Spring Men's Fashion" seemed just as white, but this time with 20-something, European-looking men.

"We just don't see what you see," Eileen Murphy, New York Times spokeswoman, told Journal-isms by email. "Notably, several of the poets we feature are people of color and there are other images throughout. And, we remain committed to a publication rich in diversity of all kinds."


A closer look, turning page by page, did indeed find some people of color, including the three in a "Young Poets" feature who actually dominated their pages. A spread on Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts, at first shown lying shirtless in bed, then, later, holding up the late Gil Scott-Heron's first album, "A New Black Poet: Small Talk at 12th and Lenox." An ad from designer John Varvatos features the young African American guitarist Gary Clark Jr. with Led Zeppelin founder Jimmy Page.

But then there are all those other pages. Tokenism? Diversity? This edition of "T: The Times Style Magazine" might fuel a discussion of which is which.


Event Planned to Respond to "Being White in Philly"

"Organizers hope Philadelphians of all races will turn out next week for an event at Love Park called 'Being in Philly,' " Jenice Armstrong, columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, wrote Monday on her blog.


"The gathering, scheduled for 4 p.m. on March 20, is in response to a controversial Philadelphia magazine cover story called 'Being White In Philly.' In the piece, based on anonymous interviews, Robert Huber makes the claim that white people are afraid to talk about race for fear of being called racist.

"The article has a lot of problems, many of them well documented already. But the first-day-of-spring event isn't so much to address the issue of bad journalism but to present another view of what's happening in Philly. . . ."


James Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Can a white person really talk about race?

Eugene Kane, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: A flawed account of race issues

Short Takes

"One Book, One Chicago," launched in fall 2001 "as an opportunity to engage and enlighten our residents and to foster a sense of community through reading," has chosen "The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration" by Isabel Wilkerson as its selection for April 2013 through March 2014. The book "follows the lives of two men and a woman who represent the 6 million black Americans who moved north in the decades between World War I and the 1970s, many of whom settled on Chicago's South Side," Matt Walberg reported Monday for the Chicago Tribune.


"Former Denver television reporter Raj Chohan will speak in front of a jury instead of a camera when he begins his new job as a prosecutor in the Weld District Attorney’s Office on March 18," T.M. Fasano reported Friday for the Greeley (Colo.) Tribune. Chohan worked as a reporter for Denver’s KCNC-TV before practicing commercial litigation and media law for BakerHostetler in Denver.

"A Mississippi television anchorman can keep documents and other materials tied to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., that the civil rights leader's estate sued to obtain, a federal appeals court panel ruled Friday," the Associated Press reported. "King's estate sued WLBT-TV's Howard Ballou in September 2011 in U.S. District Court in Jackson. The estate wanted possession of documents, photographs and other items that Ballou's mother got while working for King."


Ernesto Romero has been promoted to news director at KYMA-TV in Yuma, Ariz., Kevin Olivas reported for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. "He succeeds NAHJ member Luis Cruz, who is heading to Southern California to teach the next generation of broadcast journalists."

"The Associated Press Media Editors Foundation will offer diversity scholarships to APME NewsTrain events in 2013 for print and broadcast journalists and students who are pursuing careers in journalism," the foundation announced Thursday. "The scholarships will cover the cost of NewsTrain along with the recipient's accommodations and travel expenses. . . . The first NewsTrain will be held April 29-30 in Springfield, Ill." The application deadline is March 25.


Merlene Davis, columnist for the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader, is "very pleased" that "Starting next year, when the annual American Community Survey is distributed to 3.5 million homes in the U.S., the agency is giving black folk only two choices: black or African American." After reviewing various racial designations applied to the group over the years, Davis concluded, "Our response to those self designations is how people know we care."

"Later this month, the voice of Cleveland native Clark Kellogg will become one of the most closely listened to in the nation," Phillip Morris wrote Saturday for the Plain Dealer in Cleveland. "As lead college basketball analyst for CBS Sports, Kellogg will narrate the annual rite of spring known as March Madness." Praising Kellogg's values off the court, Morris continued, "I think he should humor us all by at least studying the political migration of former Cavalier Point Guard Kevin Johnson, who returned to his hometown of Sacramento, Calif., after his NBA playing days were over. Johnson's title since 2008? Mayor."


In the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., Barry Saunders wrote Monday, "if the Al Jazeera television network really is the preferred network of terrorists everywhere, as some fear, that is all the more reason that we in the U.S. and the Triangle should have access to it, too." Saunders added, "we should be able to see what's on the so-called enemy's preferred viewing channel for the same reason men read 'Cosmo' magazine: to know what the other side is plotting."

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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education ( Reprinted on The Root by permission.