Updated on June 2 at 11:20 p.m. ET.
Amy DuBois Barnett, deputy editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar magazine and former editor of Honey, on Wednesday was named editor-in-chief of Ebony magazine, effective immediately, Johnson Publishing Co. announced. Harriette Cole, the magazine's creative director and its acting editor-in-chief since Bryan Monroe left as editorial director in April 2009, is leaving the publication "to pursue other opportunities."
Linda Johnson Rice, chairman and CEO of Johnson Publishing Co., told the Chicago Sun-Times that "she has no immediate plans to sell Ebony or Johnson Publishing, the company that her late father, John H. Johnson, fashioned into an iconic and influential voice in the African-American community nationwide," Sandra Guy reported in the Sun-Times.
" 'I have no plans to sell the company. None,' Rice said, adding that she cannot say what might happen in the future. 'I’m really excited about Amy [Barnett] now. That’s my main concentration now,' Rice said.
" 'She's very forward thinking and very interested in our digital space,' Rice said. 'We need to be able to move the magazine forward, and to come up with additional stories and perspectives, and for it to have a stronger voice in the African-American community.' "
In the announcement, Rice said that "Harriette Cole has been an exceptional contributor to EBONY in her role as acting Editor-in-Chief and Creative Director in the continuing evolution of the magazine," said Rice. "She was an integral part of landing key covers including First-lady Michelle Obama, Oscar-award nominee Gabourey Sidibe and musical icon Prince. We wish her well in her future endeavors."
Cole wrote an advice column in the New York Daily News, was editor of Uptown magazine, made appearances on "Oprah" and the "Today" show, and had previously worked at Ebony and Essence. She was based in New York and edited Ebony from that city as well as from Chicago, where Johnson is based, spokeswoman Wendy E. Parks said. Cole is also an author.
Ebony is the largest magazine targeting African Americans, nosing out Essence with its average monthly circulation of 1,169,870 for the six months ending Dec. 31, according to figures reported to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
Johnson Publishing Co., a privately held company,has been seeking a buyer in a tough economic climate for all magazines. Earvin "Magic" Johnson confirmed in February that an affiliate of his Magic Johnson Enterprises and Johnson Publishing Co. "were in advanced discussions to do business together," but said that "unfortunately we were unable to reach a definitive agreement."
Parks would say only that Johnson had "a number of qualified candidates" for the editor-in-chief job.
The announcement called Barnett "an award-winning media executive, writer and brand architect. Most recently, she was the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s Bazaar. Prior to that stint, Barnett held top masthead positions at Teen People, entering history books as the first African-American woman in the country to head a major mainstream consumer magazine, and at Honey Magazine, where she doubled the circulation," it said.
It quoted Barnett: "EBONY has always represented the best of African-African achievement, society and culture, and I couldn’t be more honored to be at the helm as we enhance this icon for the 21st century. I’m excited to bring the EBONY brand to multiple media platforms and to engage new audiences who will surely be moved by its resonant, provocative and authoritative perspective on today’s African-American experience."
In her 2007 book, "Get Yours! The Girlfriend's Guide To Having Everything You Ever Dreamed of And More," Barnett wrote, "Take the initiative in your career: Whether it's updating your resume every few months, networking or dressing for success, Barnett urges women not to wait for that great job to fall in their lap — they have to go out and find it," as the Associated Press reported.
Barnett's appointment puts women in the key positions at Johnson Publishing, a decided change from the days when John H. Johnson, Rice's father, ran the company. Rice is CEO, Anne Sempowski Ward is president and COO, Mira Lowe is editor-in-chief of Jet, Candi Meriwether is Jet managing editor, Terry Glover is Ebony managing editor and Parks is director of corporate communications.