Ebony and Jet are working on a comeback after announcing the hiring of Michele Ghee as CEO of the iconic brands.
Bridgeman Sports & Media, which currently owns the African-American lifestyle publications, made the announcement in a recent press release.
“Everything we say will come through the lens of Black journalists. We will ensure there is a safe space for Black journalism to thrive,” Ghee stated. “I’m a little Black girl from Oakland, California. I’m not apologizing for any of it. Our voices matter. We are history in the making!”
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The Oakland native’s hiring comes after former NBA player Ulysses Lee “Junior” Bridgeman won a bid to buy Ebony and Jet for $14 million, The Shadow League reported last month.
Ghee has over 25 years experience in media and entertainment at BET Networks, WME, CNN, A&E, and The History Channel. Her most recent position was with BET, where she created and ran BETHer.
Her hiring follows years of turmoil at the two magazines.
In February 2018, Ebony agreed to pay a group of freelancers nearly $80,000 to settle a lawsuit over unpaid work. According to the lawsuit obtained by the Chicago Tribune, the freelancers were “regular contributors” at both Ebony and Jet, but they alleged the publisher “failed and/or refused” to pay them.
Then in April 2019, the two magazines quietly shut down their websites, following financial troubles and waves of layoffs.
In June 2019, the historic photo archive of Ebony and Jet were sold for $30 million, much less than the initial asking price. The sale included more than 4 million images and negatives documenting African American life.
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Ebony was founded in 1945 by the late John H. Johnson of Johnson Publishing in Chicago. He launched sister publication Jet in 1951. Johnson Publishing sold the magazines to CVG Group in May 2016, before Bridgeman Sports & Media picked up the titles.
Ghee said the revamped magazines will pay homage to Johnson’s legacy.
“Our brands’ main responsibility will be to focus completely on what our beloved audience wants and needs with bold informed editorial, brilliant content, and the opportunity to connect with like minded people. Paying homage to Mr. Johnson’s legacy means that my team will carve-out and create our own path. We will NOT succumb to the status quo,” she explained.
The Ebony website and Jet website are both back online and say a “rebirth” of the brands will take place on March 1, 2021.