By Ryan Velez
Ebony Magazine has been an iconic part of the Black culture for decades, but this doesn’t mean that it’s immune to the ongoing shifts hurting traditional publishing. RollingOut reports that the magazine is mirroring other Midwestern companies, consolidating with its sister publication, Jet, moving to Los Angeles, and laying off employees. Some may see a comparison to Motown moving to Los Angeles in pursuit of movie success years ago.
The magazine’s ownership announced that among the 10 of its 35 employees being laid off is editor-in-chief Kyra Kyles, as well as Jet’s editor. Tracey Ferguson is taking over operations for both publications.
“There was a significant consolidation of the editorial staff as well as some of the digital staff,” Michael Gibson, co-founder and chairman of Ebony owner CVG Group, said Friday. Ebony has been struggling since being sold in 2016 for an undisclosed amount to the CVG Group by Johnson Publishing, the family-owned group that founded Ebony in 1945. The adaptation to digital media has been one that many magazines have had to make to keep readership, but it’s not an easy one for every company, including Ebony.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported on several rumors regarding Ebony recently, including freelance writers not getting paid and subscription deliveries not being delivered since the November issue. Gibson blamed the second issue on the printer’s mistake. Gibson added that the magazine was also “100% committed” to getting its freelancers paid.
“The old printer was committed to finishing up the December-January subscription (issue) and sending those out. At some point, the old printer backed off of that commitment,” Gibson said. Regardless of where the blame sits, this is still a far cry from Ebony’s peak. During the era of Jim Crow, it was held as one of the major voices for all African-Americans. While editorial operations will be taking place in Los Angeles from now on, Gibson added that there will still be a downsized office in Chicago. In addition, Linda Johnson Rice, who was recently named Ebony Media CEO and who is remaining in Chicago, will still be serving in a supervisory capacity.