Linda Johnson Rice Retakes Control of Johnson Publishing Company

Linda Johnson Rice

Following a month of announcements on corporate restructuring, Linda Johnson Rice is back at the helm of three of the best-known brands in Black America.

In early July 2017, a statement was released by Johnson Publishing Co. citing the departure of Desiree Rogers, who will end her seven-year tenure as CEO. Her duties will be assumed by the company’s chairman, Linda Johnson Rice.

Johnson Rice said recent developments were all a part of her ongoing plan to streamline and grow the company founded by her father and mother in Chicago 75 years ago.

“Sometimes you have to make some hard choices and hard changes. I think that this is what’s great for the business, in order to grow and to keep it on a path that will be successful. In an effort to streamline our business and to get it where it needs to be, we decided we would consolidate and have Tracey Ferguson, who is the editor-in-chief of Jet, also to be EIC of Ebony, and handle all of the digital [needs] on both sites,” said Johnson Rice.

There will also be editorial staff in New York and Chicago. “We will still have a big presence in Chicago,” she continued, “because our sales and marketing team is there, our production is in Chicago. So I want to be real clear on that—we’re not leaving Chicago.”

Ebony, which had published monthly, is now producing eight issues a year, with four special-subject issues released only on newsstands.

One indication that JPC at last may be turning the corner on its challenges is the announcement that Jet magazine, once the largest circulation black-oriented magazine ever printed, will return to publication as a newsstand-only quarterly targeting a millennial readership. After suspending print editions in 2014, Johnson Rice said it will re-appear in the fall of this year—possibly in November, which founder John H. Johnson called his “lucky month” because his very first magazine, Negro Digest, debuted in November of 1942. Every one of the 11 magazines JPC would introduce over the next 75 years premiered in November as well.


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