Chicago Crusader staff report
Ebony’s new owners emerged June 21 and unveiled their plans for the iconic Black magazine. The move came nearly a week after the Crusader published a story on the sale of Ebony and Jet publications as part of a deal that was shrouded in mystery.
On Tuesday, Ebony published a story about, Clear View Group LLC, which bought Ebony Magazine, Ebony.com and Jet Magazine in May for an undisclosed price. It’s not clear what will happen with the iconic Johnson Publishing building, which was put up for sale by Columbia College hours after Clear View Group announced its purchase of Ebony and Jet on June 15.
In the new article, Ebony says Clear View Group is a Black-owned investment firm in Austin, TX headed by Chairman Michael Gibson and Willard Jackson, vice chairman of Clear View, according to the story on Ebony.com. In the story, Gibson said purchasing the two publications was a “no-brainer.”
Ebony and Jet will be part of newly formed group called the Ebony Media Company. Johnson Publishing Company Chairman Linda Johnson Rice will serve as Chairman Emeritus of the Ebony Media. Kyra Kyles, who led the Ebony’s digital operations, will be the magazines editor-in-chief and senior vice president of digital editorial.
Gibson will serve as board chair of the new Ebony Media Company.
“Ebony’s always been a part of our families, so it had always been an attraction,” Gibson said in the Ebony story. “But this opportunity was introduced to us…and it didn’t take us very long to make a decision that this was something unique, it’s the most iconic image in the African American community and it’s a platform that we think is really important for us and all of our community.”
Clear View is still mum on the terms deals and the sale amount of Ebony and Jet, two magazines that were founded by John H. Johnson, who used his mother’s furniture as collateral to start Johnson Publishing Company. The sale ended an era of Ebony and Jet, which were both family-owned since the John H. Johnson founded his empire in 1942.
According to Ebony, Clear View is a firm formed by Gibson and Jackson in 2015. It specializes in private equity acquisitions. Clear View says it’s looking to transform the Ebony Media Company into a “multimedia platform” that will include existing print and digital operations. Clear View also says there is also a possibility of expanding into broadcast operations as well, though it’s not clear what this meant.
“We see bringing additional programs, activations, events…to further satisfy what we think is a need out there for African American content,” Jackson said in the Ebony story. “Whether its healthcare or education related, we want to offer different ways to provide content to the existing readership. We really see expanding the digital platform.”
Despite the new ownership, some former employees and fans believe Ebony won’t be the same. With little to no media experience and Ebony’s problems, there is also concern that restoring the magazine will be too difficult in a tough industry where advertising dollars have been declining for years.
Gibson said he is ready for the challenge.
“We have a reach of over 1.25 million subscribers a month, that’s more than any other (Black targeted) magazine that’s there,” Gibson said on Ebony.com.