Crusader Staff Report
Ebony magazine’s website is back up after the Crusader reported that it had been down for nearly a week.
The Crusader first discovered the site was down March 26. Sabrina Taylor, Ebony’s chief communications officer and head of development, told the Crusader that the site would be back up April 1. That didn’t happen and Taylor did not return messages from the Crusader. Taylor did say there were a “lot of issues going on,” but did not elaborate.
A reader on April 8 alerted the Crusader that ebony.com was back up after a story in the root.com. In that story, Taylor said Ebony was “trying to rebrand,” but with no new stories or fresh appearance, the website looks the same as it did before it went down. The top story, “Ebony’s Power 100” about the nation’s top Black media figures, was first posted in February.
“We are really working on putting the website back up,” Taylor told The Root. “We thought it would be down for just two days, but now it’s been down over a week. A lot of that has to do with the coronavirus and our assets. We are working with people who are volunteering to help us change it and update it.”
Taylor also told The Root that “We didn’t intend to be down that long. We are actually trying to find a way to put up a standby place card for it that we will put on our social media today.”
Additionally, Taylor confirmed that Clear View Group, LLC remains the owner of Ebony Media Operations, LLC and that Ebony’s remaining internal staff “was furloughed because you all know we’re in the middle of a pandemic.”
Sources told the Crusader that Michael Gibson, who co-owned the Ebony Media Group, had not been with the venture for a year.
John H. Johnson created Ebony in 1945 while working in the Supreme Life Insurance building on 35th and King Drive in Bronzeville. The magazine would eventually become the flagship publication of Johnson Publishing Company.
Johnson’s daughter, Linda Johnson Rice, took over the company when her father died in 2005.
Capping years of decline, last year, Johnson Publishing filed bankruptcy in May and sold its vast photo archives for $30 million to a group of philanthropic foundations.
Rice sold Ebony and Jet in 2016 to Clear View Group, which, at the time, had no experience in media and publishing.
Last May, Ebony announced that it would suspend its print edition.
Earlier this month, Johnson Publishing reached a $500,000 settlement in a defamation lawsuit filed by the family of two Georgia high school students. The family alleged the magazine, in a series of articles in 2014, falsely implicated the students in the mysterious death of a Black classmate in 2013.
Under Clear View Group, both magazines continued to decline, experiencing staff and editorial problems.