Former Publisher of Ebony & Jet Magazine Files For Bankruptcy

(Original Caption) Chicago, ILL.: John H. Johnson, publisher of Ebony Magazine and owner of Johnson publications. Photo shows Johnson seated in his desk.

Johnson Publishing, the former publisher and creator of the iconic Ebony and Jet magazines, filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday and plans a court-supervised sale of its assets.

The company was founded in Chicago 77 years go in 1942 by John H. Johnson, who was known as one of the first African American media moguls. Ebony was launched in 1945 as a monthly lifestyle magazine, featuring human interest, celebrity and lifestyle photography and stories.

Jet Magazine was released just six years later as a digest-style publication and reported the news of Black America. In fact, Jet was initially named “The Weekly Negro News Magazine”.

Together both of these publications captured Black American life of the time period. Linda Johnson Rice, who succeeded her father as CEO, said that the company’s mission was to be “curator of the African-American experience, past, present and future.”

Johnson Publishing Company has lived up to that mission for the last 77 years, but recent financial struggles, shifts in management, and customer’s shift to consuming digital media have all led to the bankruptcy filing.

Despite the news, Jet and Ebony will continue to live on. Both the magazines were sold to a Texas-based ClearView Group in 2016 for an undisclosed amount. Ebony was later sold under the name Essence Ventures in 2017 to Richelieu Dennis, founder of Shea Moisture.