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

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.


In April, the company announced that Miller would move from the editor-in-chief's position at Jet to the same position at Ebony, meaning that Amy DuBois Barnett would be stepping down.

Rogers, who spoke by telephone, said that Miller's first Ebony issue, with Earvin "Magic" Johnson on the cover, was about to be released and that its look is different. She said there was more male-female "balance in the stories" and that different staff people were involved in its design. Some had begun to call Ebony a woman's magazine, but Rogers noted that 40 percent of its audience is male.


In 2010, the NBA Hall of Famer was reported to be in talks to buy Johnson Publishing, but Brett Pulley of Bloomberg News quoted Johnson then as saying an affiliate of his company couldn't come to an agreement, despite advanced talks.

Linda Johnson Rice, chairman and CEO, later declared that she had no plans to sell the company and hired her friend Rogers as CEO.


Tom Foremski, ZDNet: The media industry's 2nd Apocalypse: The rapid rise of mobile

Phil Yu wrote this Friday on Angry Asian Man, the blog of which he is founder, editor and primary blogger:"If Asians Said the Stuff White People Say"


"BOOM. Check out this short but sweet BuzzFeed video by my good friend Abe Forman-Greenwald: If Asians Said The Stuff White People Say, in which our pal Jenny Yang and Eugene Yang turn the tables and drop a volley of ignorant comments… about white people. My people, you've heard it all before: [video]

"Oh no they didn't! When you put it that way, hypothetically, those comments sound pretty ridiculous Well, guess what? The actual Asian version of those comments always sound ridiculous. To us. All the time."


Ezra Klein's Vox Hires Black Journalist as "Lead Editor"

Vox Media, one of the new journalism startups that has been criticized for lack of diversity, hired Lauren Williams, a black journalist who has worked at The Root and Mother Jones, as "lead editor," the publication tweeted on Monday.


Williams told Journal-isms that Ezra Klein, the former stalwart of the Washington Post's Wonkblog who founded Vox Media as a forum for explanatory journalism, "reached out to me about the position."

Williams said by email, "I'm really excited.

"As lead editor, my job will be to edit stories across subject platforms, establish and implement an efficient editorial process, facilitate daily copy flow, and work with senior editors on daily editorial planning.


"Ezra Klein reached out to me about the position. Mother Jones is a great place, but working at Vox was an opportunity I couldn't pass up! "

Williams has been story editor at Mother Jones since July. Before that, she was associate editor and deputy editor of The Root and lifestyle editor at AOL Black Voices.


The Racism Beat Can Wear a Writer Out

"For several years, I made my unofficial beat the stories, struggles, and politics of blacks in America," Cord Jefferson wrote Monday for "I wrote about other things, also, but never with the same frequency or interest. I was pretty good at it, and, more than that, I enjoyed it. Eventually, people began to assume that I'd comment when a particular kind of news story bubbled up — generally one about something bad happening to a black person — and I often times would.


"I wasn't surprised when a website I liked asked me to write about the case of a white man of little note in New Hampshire calling a hugely powerful black man a 'nigger.' But then I realized I didn't have anything to say.

"Or maybe it wasn't that I didn't have anything to say. Maybe it was the realization that writing anything would be to listlessly participate in the carousel ride: an inciting incident, 1,000 angry thinkpieces, 1,000 tweeted links, and back to where we started, until next time. Perhaps it was a feeling that writing anything would finally be too redundant to bear, a pursuit of too many sad and obvious words to heap onto so many other nearly identical words written down before, by me, by thousands of others.


Jefferson also wrote, "I think about race and racism every day of my life. How can any American not? (James Baldwin once proffered the idea that 'the Negro-in-America is increasingly the central problem in American life.') I anticipate that I'll always write about race and racism in some professional capacity. Still, wouldn’t it be wonderful if writers and creatives on the periphery were welcomed in from anonymity, not thanks to their accounts of woe, but simply because they have things to share — tales of love, joy, happiness, and basic humanity — that have nothing to do with their race and also everything to do with their race.

"I'm ready for people in positions of power at magazines and newspapers and movie studios to recalibrate their understanding of what it means to talk about race in the first place. If America would like to express that it truly values and appreciates the voices of its minorities, it will listen to all their stories, not just the ones reacting to its shortcomings and brutality.


"If this doesn't eventually happen, I wonder how many more writers of color will come to the conclusion, as my colleague did, that this life we've made for ourselves is unsustainable. How many essays can go up before fatigue becomes anger becomes insanity? How many op-ed columns before you can feel the gruesomeness of trying to defend another dead black kid slowly hollowing you out? How many different ways can you find to say that you're a human being? . . ." . . ."

Jarvis DeBerry, | the Times-Picayune: Stop pretending that the 'n-word' doesn't refer to black people


U.S. Financing New TV Channel to Combat Nigerian Radicals

"The State Department is financing a new 24-hour satellite television channel in the turbulent northern region of Nigeria that American officials say is crucial to countering the extremism of radical groups such as Boko Haram," Ron Nixon wrote Friday for the New York Times. "The move signals a ramping up of American counterinsurgency efforts to directly challenge the terrorist group, which abducted nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls in April.


"State Department officials acknowledged that setting up an American-supported channel could prove challenging in a region where massacres, bombings and shootings by Boko Haram are common, and where the American government and Western educational programs are far from popular. The group has been known to attack media organizations in Nigeria.

"The new television channel, to be called Arewa24 — arewa means north in the Hausa language — is financed by the State Department's Bureau of Counterterrorism, and it is expected to cost about $6 million. State Department officials would discuss the program only on the condition of anonymity, and offered sparse information about it. But details have emerged in publicly available contracting documents and in interviews with people familiar with the effort. . . ."


"The prisoner exchange that freed U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban in Afghanistan gets a more negative than positive reaction from the public," the Pew Research Center reported on Monday.Reactions to Bergdahl Case Divided Along Partisan Lines

"Overall, 43% say it was the wrong thing for the Obama administration to exchange five Taliban prisoners for captive soldier Bergdahl, while fewer (34%) say it was the right thing to do; 23% do not offer an opinion.


"The new national survey by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY, conducted June 5-8 among 1,004 adults, finds that while this specific prisoner exchange is viewed negatively on balance, most think the U.S. has a responsibility to do all it can to free captive U.S. soldiers in general, regardless of the circumstances of their capture.

"Overall, 56% say the U.S. has a responsibility to do all it can to return an American captive soldier, no matter what the circumstances; 29% say that because Bergdahl left his post, the U.S. was not obligated to do all it could to secure his release.


"Reactions to the Bergdahl case are deeply divided along partisan lines. Fully 71% of Republicans think the prisoner exchange was the wrong thing to do, while just 16% say it was the right thing to do. Democrats, by more than two-to-one (55% to 24%), have a positive opinion of the agreement. . . ."

David A. Love, the Grio: Bowe Bergdahl: Guilt by association with Obama

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Bergdahl case unleashes all the hypocrites


Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: What matters most is bringing the GI home

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Six points concerning Bowe Bergdahl

Noah Rothman, Susan Rice Scolds Media for Trying Bergdahl in 'Court of Public Opinion' 


Bob Ray Sanders, Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas: A soldier's story still in search of an ending

Chuck Arnold, Music Critic for People, Exits

Chuck Arnold, music critic for People magazine for 13 years, is leaving to "explore opportunities elsewhere," he told Journal-isms on Monday.


"I left voluntarily. It was my decision," Arnold said by email. "I was at People for 17 years. I was the music critic there for 13 years. I decided to leave and explore opportunities elsewhere, but I plan to stay in the music mix, whatever comes next…I'm 43. Before People, I worked at YM magazine and the Philadelphia Daily News."

Asked what he would like to be remembered for at People, Arnold replied, "Being the music critic for 13 years!"


Meanwhile, Time Inc., which includes People among its stable of magazines, began trading Monday as an independent companyDavid Carr and Ravi Somaiya reported Sunday for the New York Times, "According to two people with knowledge of the strategy, leaders at the company met with editors of Time Inc. publications last week and told them they were expected to make deep cuts in staffing and other areas — totaling 25 percent of editorial costs — in the coming months. . . ."

Time Inc. publications also include Essence magazine and People en Español.

Office of FCC's Clyburn Was Catalyst for Black Ownership Deal

The office of Mignon Clyburn, a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, played a role in linking Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc., with black media entrepreneur Pluria Marshall Jr. The two parties announced on Friday that Nexstar had agreed to sell Marshall's company three television stations.


Responding to a question about how Nexstar found him, Marshall told Journal-isms by email, "Commissioner Clyburn's office made several recommendations on possible individuals to work with."

Clyburn messaged Journal-isms, however, that "I personally did not make any recommendations." Adonis E. Hoffman, Clyburn's chief of staff and senior legal adviser, said by telephone that Nexstar representatives came to lobby him in March on the controversial issue of joint services agreements, under which one station provides services, such as advertising sales, to another. The FCC was moving to ban such arrangements.


On the way out of the meeting, a Nexstar representative said the company would be interested in finding a minority buyer. Hoffman mentioned Marshall and an Atlanta business. "It was as casual as that," he said. The representatives were familiar with Marshall. Nexstar followed up. 

Marshall was asked about an assertion that Nexstar chose a black-owned company as a way to operate three of its stations under thinly disguised shared-services or "sidecar" agreements, under which one station provides services, such as advertising sales, to another. The FCC last month voted 3-2 for the ban but made an exception if the arrangement furthered diversity.


"When the newly invigorated FCC stepped in and threatened to swat the deals down, Nexstar got creative and recruited black media entrepreneur Pluria Marshall Jr. as a 'black beard,' " the subscription-only NewsBlues site asserted on Monday. "Pluria Marshall Jr. will front the three stations in name only, and Nexstar will finance the $58.5 million sale with its own money."

Marshall replied in his email, "You obviously don't know me. I am a seasoned media executive and hands on manager. I run everything I own, always have. The sidecar transactions of the past have been derailed by Chairman [Tom] Wheeler. Our transaction is totally different in form and scope."


The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters said Monday that it had questions about the deal, but that it approved.

Jim Winston, NABOB executive director, said in a statement, "This is the type of transaction NABOB was hoping to see as a result of the new JSA [joint services agreement] rule. Pluria Marshall, Jr. is the type of person, with a long history in radio station ownership and operation, who has the potential to become a successful television station owner and operator. This appears to be the kind of transaction that should receive a waiver of the rule."


The stations involved, all FOX-affiliated, are KMSS-TV in Shreveport, La.; KPEJ-TV in Odessa, Texas; and KLJB-TV in Davenport, Iowa. As president and chief executive officer of Equal Access Media Inc., Marshall owns several newspapers serving African American and minority communities, including the Houston Informer, Texas Freeman, the Los Angeles Wave Newspaper Group and the Los Angeles Independent Publications Group.

If the deal is approved, it would nearly double the tiny number of black-owned, full-power commercial television stations.


Meanwhile, Jessica J. Gonzalez, executive vice president and general counsel of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, is listed among the witnesses to testify Wednesday before a House Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing on "Media Ownership in the 21st Century." 

Short Takes

"Hispanic moviegoers are the most important audience in the United States, according to a diverse panel of experts who spoke Sunday at the Produced By Conference in Los Angeles," Lucas Shaw reported Sunday for the Wrap. "They go to the movies more often and in larger groups, they spend more at concession stands and they talk about movies more on social media, panelists said. . . ."


"Calling it a change in strategy, impreMedia has stopped publishing the print edition of its Texas weekly Rumbo," Veronica Villafañe reported Monday on her Media Moves site. "The company quietly acknowledged to its employees via email just this past Friday, June 6, that the final run of the Houston-based paper was a week earlier — Friday, May 30th. . . .

"Sundra Hominik, an experienced journalist and editor, will be joining GateHouse Media Delaware as its new executive editor, effective June 23," the Sussex Countian in Georgetown, Del., reported on Thursday. It also said, "GateHouse Media Delaware publishes the twice-weekly Dover Post, along with weeklies that include the Hockessin Community News, Middletown Transcript, Smyrna/Clayton Sun Times, Milford Beacon, and Sussex Countian.


"An Ethiopian journalist branded a 'terrorist' and currently serving an 18-year prison sentence has been awarded the 2014 Golden Pen of Freedom," William Turvill wrote Monday for Britain's Press Gazette. "Eskinder Nega . . . has been jailed on at least seven occasions in his country. On the latest occasion, he was locked up for challenging the laws used against him and speculating that the Arab Spring uprisings could be repeated in Ethiopia. He wrote on these subjects despite already having had his journalism 'licence' taken away from him. . . ." Turvill also wrote, "The award, from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), was presented today in Turin, Italy, during the opening ceremonies of the 66th World Newspaper Congress, 21st World Editors Forum and the 24th World Advertising Forum. . . ."

"Stanton Tang succeeded in his desire to move west," Rick Gevers reported Saturday for his weekly television newsletter, referring to KOLO-TV in Reno, Nev. "We told you a few months ago that Stanton was leaving his job as ND of WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, MI, so he could move west to be closer to family. He served four years as ND in Grand Rapids, and five years before that as EP. He’s also worked in Las Vegas, Sacramento and Phoenix. He replaces JENNIFER HARDY who left to become ND at WAAY-TV in Huntsville. Stanton will be the eighth ND in 12 years for this Gray TV owned ABC affiliate."


"CNBC anchor Carl Quintanilla will join HBO's Emmy-winning Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," Marisa Guthrie reported Monday for the Hollywood Reporter. "The announcement came Monday from HBO and Gumbel." She also wrote, "Quintanilla's role at CNBC will not change; he'll continue to anchor weekday programs Squawk on the Street and Squawk Alley. . . "

"After four years on the sidelines, I am happy to announce that I am back in the broadcast news game!" Mike Woolfolk wrote Sunday to his Facebook followers. "I just completed my first weekend as a reporter for WXYZ-TV in Detroit. I grew up watching 7 Action News and it is truly a dream come true to have the chance to work at that station in my hometown.. . ." (video) Woolfolk left WACH-TV in Columbia, S.C., where he was an anchor, in 2010.


"A million Latinos living in the Washington, D.C., area can watch a half-hour news/public affairs show tailored just for them. In Spanish and/or English," Paul Greeley reported Monday for TVNewsCheck. "The show is called Hispanic Agenda in English, Agenda in Spanish, and is Washington's only bilingual news program. Recorded weekly at WJLA, the ABC affiliate, Agenda airs entirely in English on Washington's NewsChannel 8 cable channel (co-owned with WJLA), and then entirely in Spanish on Telemundo affil WZDC. The program features bilingual anchor Alejandro Negron, as well as a team of bilingual reporters from WJLA and WZDC, and all guests and panelists are also bilingual. . . ."

"Journalist Adam Baron was deported from Yemen in early May, after being told that he was no longer welcome in the country," Cora Currier reported Wednesday for Columbia Journalism Review. "His departure was bemoaned and protested by commentators and journalists in the US and Yemen who appreciated and depended on his regular coverage for McClatchy, the Christian Science Monitor, and others. The only American with a journalism visa, Baron covered drone strikes and counterterrorism as well as Yemen’s complex internal political situation in the years since its Arab Spring uprising. Not long after he left, another foreign journalist, Iona Craig, who writes for the Times of London and elsewhere, decided to leave, 'of my own accord,' she wrote. . . .


Follow Richard Prince on Twitter.

Facebook users: Like “Richard Prince’s Journal-isms” on Facebook.

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