Mira Lowe announced her resignation Tuesday as editor-in-chief of Jet magazine, and Robin Givhan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion writer for the Washington Post, said she was leaving the Post for the new merged Newsweek and Daily Beast.
Lowe, a former Newsday associate editor, was brought to Johnson Publishing Co. in 2007 as one of the first hires of then-editorial director Bryan Monroe. She was named Jet's first female editor-in-chief in April 2009.
"I just thought it was a great time to pursue some personal and professional goals," Lowe said Tuesday. Teaching might be one option. A year ago, Lowe's husband, Herbert Lowe, also a former Newsday journalist, joined the faculty of the J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University as a professional in residence. But, she said, "We are open to all opportunities. We don't want to block our blessings."
Her last day is to be Jan. 3. Lowe is planning a farewell column for the Jan. 10 issue.
At the new Newsweek and Daily Beast, Givhan will be a special correspondent, style and culture, Daily Beast spokesman Andrew Kirk told Journal-isms.
Givhan said that technically her appointment will be with Newsweek. Audio-equipment magnate Sidney Harman, who bought the money-losing newsweekly for $1, completed negotiations in November to merge Newsweek with the two-year-old online startup. Magazine veteran Tina Brown, who edits the Daily Beast, will become Newsweek editor-in-chief.
Just two months ago, Post editors announced the departure of media writer Howard Kurtz to the Daily Beast after 29 years. On Tuesday, they reported Givhan's planned departure as well as that of art critic Blake Gopnik, who is leaving "to try something new elsewhere."
Gopnik covered an explosive controversy on his beat — the removal by the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery of a video called "A Fire in My Belly," which includes 11 seconds of footage of a small crucifix crawling with ants. Some Christians objected to the passage as sacrilegious and threatened the Smithsonian's funding. In the New York Times on Sunday, op-ed columnist Frank Rich called the removal an example of homophobia. On Dec. 1, the Post ran an essay by Gopnik headlined, "Museums shouldn't bow to censorship of any kind."
Tuesday's Post announcement said, in part, "Robin Givhan is leaving after 15 years at the paper.
"In that time, Robin has demonstrated herself as an extraordinary talent, stretching the definition of fashion beyond the discussion of trends or runway flights of fancy. Thanks to Robin's Pulitzer-awarded acuity, Washington Post readers have learned how to understand world leaders through the way they dress. A parka, a pair of stiletto boots, a pair of hiking shorts launched national debates on what political figures must have been thinking when they made such personal decisions, or whether they were thinking through their public image at all.
"She has not only explained the iconic status of Michelle Obama's inaugural gown, Madeleine Albright's patriotic pins, freshman Rep. Frederica Wilson's Stetsons, she made Washington understand something fundamental about how every public appearance is a self-expression. No one is more in command of her own powers of self-expression than Robin, as her reasoned, elegant columns have proven each Sunday and we will miss her."
Kirk, the Daily Beast spokesman, denied that Givhan would be the first black journalist at the Daily Beast, but he would not say who the others were. "As you know from earlier correspondence on this topic," he said by e-mail, "we do not divulge information regarding our employees externally. If you spend some time on our site, I am sure you will get a sense for the diverse backgrounds of our staff."
In April and again in August, the American Society of News Editors said it had asked online news operations to participate in its annual diversity survey. Each time, the Daily Beast did not respond, and this column noted that the operation was not particularly known for its diversity.
Givhan won a Pulitzer Prize in 2006 "for her witty, closely observed essays that transform fashion criticism into cultural criticism." She was based in New York but returned to Washington to cover Michelle Obama and the first family after President Obama took office.
The departure of Lowe signals still another change at Johnson Publishing Co. since Chairman Linda Johnson Rice, daughter ofhe late company founder John H. Johnson, decided earlier this year that she would not sell the company. Among those changes has been naming Desiree Rogers, the Chicago businesswoman and former White House social secretary, as Johnson Publishing's CEO.
Both Ebony and Jet magazines have continued to lose circulation despite makeovers, and Rogers told Folio: magazine this month that she intended to reverse that.
An ABC Rapid Report showed that Jet had total paid circulation of 750,978 for the six months ending in June, though its rate base — the circulation promised advertisers — was 900,000.
Lowe said Tuesday night that Rogers was putting into place steps in circulation and marketing to reverse the slides and cited her own achievements on the editorial side at "repositioning the brand," installing new voices and presiding over a new website, myjet247.com.
Given its weeklong lead time and push for sales, the newsweekly has stressed celebrity covers over breaking news.
Among her achievements, Lowe said, was directing coverage of actress/comedian Mo'Nique’s Oscar-winning weekend in March, in which Jet was granted special access to Mo'Nique and her home and chronicled her experiences leading to the Academy Awards ceremony. Mo'Nique won as best supporting actress for her role in "Precious."
Lowe also produced a Jet tribute to "King of Pop" Michael Jackson after his 2009 death. The issue became the highest-selling Jet ever, selling more than 200,000 copies.
Rodrigo A. Sierra, chief marketing officer and senior vice president at Johnson Publishing, said the company was looking to fill the editor's job for what will be Jet's 60th year.
It will seek "a strong leader who has a really good idea of where they think that magazine can go for the future," who will keep it linked to the community and will preside over "a very strong digital site."
Sierra said Rogers would turn her attention to Jet after having looked more closely at other parts of the company. One challenge will be how to keep the role of a weekly magazine relevant when breaking news can be found more immediately on the Web, he said.
It was a challenge that Newsweek was unable to meet.