Jet magazine, a staple in black homes, beauty parlors and barber shops since 1951, is ending print publication at the end of June and becoming a digital magazine app, Johnson Publishing Co. announced on Wednesday.
The transition marks an accommodation to the Internet age, during which the print publication's frequency went from weekly to every two weeks and most recently to every three weeks.
"Almost 63 years ago, my father, John Johnson, named the publication JET because, as he said in the first issue, 'In the world today, everything is moving faster. There is more news and far less time to read it,' " Linda Johnson Rice, chairman of Johnson Publishing, said in the announcement.
"He could not have spoken more relevant words today. We are not saying goodbye to JET, we are embracing the future as my father did in 1951 and taking it to the next level."
According to the announcement, "The new weekly digital magazine app will leverage a variety of storytelling tactics, including video interviews, enhanced digital maps, 3D charts and photography from the JPC archives. Breaking news will be updated daily. The app will be available on all tablet devices and mobile platforms. In addition, JET will publish an annual special print edition."
Johnson Publishing CEO Desiree Rogers said Jet will be "presenting a new issue every seven days on a paid app ($20 a year) for mobile devices. The magazine also will post breaking news updates daily on its website," Rem Rieder reported for USA Today.
"Imagine seeing the beauty of the week in 3D!" Rogers said in an interview Wednesday with Roland Martin on TVOne's "NewsOne Now" (video).
Asked whether older people would be comfortable reading Jet on a computer, Rogers said on "NewsOne Now":
"When you think about the elders, my mother is 75 years old. I can't get her off of her iPad. So, I think it's more than we think in terms of, by age, how many people really have Kindles or Nooks or iPads. Not everyone, but a lot of people do, retirees. They love these things. . . .
"In addition to that, we probably will have some kind of promotions, et cetera. so people can see, you know, what it looks like, they can experience it for themselves and make their own decisions. The other thing I would say is we already have a substantial number of subscribers that already subscribe to our digital magazine. And this will be much better than that. . . ."
Samir Husni of the University of Mississippi, known as "Mr. Magazine," does not share Rogers' optimism. Husni, who is director, professor and Hederman lecturer at the Magazine Innovation Center, told Journal-isms by email, "It is a sad sad day for the black press in America. Digital is more like the new life support for the magazine… soon they will pull the plug and nobody will notice… out of sight, out of mind… if they thought they can't survive in print, but they can on digital, they must think again. It is a jungle out there and for folks and advertisers to follow them there it is one of those pipe dreams…"
Kyra Kyles, formerly a senior editor of Jet and digital managing editor of Jetmag.com, has been appointed the digital editorial director for JET online.
Known to many as "The Jet," the digest-sized publication is the third-largest magazine targeting African Americans.
Among magazines seeking a black audience, according to the Alliance for Audited Media, average total paid circulation for the six months ending Dec. 31 were: Ebony, 1,280,350; Essence, 1,060,774; and Jet, 720,301.
In advertising sales, the Association of Magazine Media reported that Jet's ad sales rose by 4.9 percent from the last quarter of 2012 to the last quarter of 2013, but declined in ad pages by 3 percent.
The frequency was reduced, as Rogers told the Chicago Tribune, because "We were not able to deliver and to print a weekly magazine that was cost-effective."
In addition to its "Beauty of the Week" and its longtime social status as the place to announce weddings and anniversaries, Jet will forever be known for the graphic photos it published in 1955 of the corpse of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Chicago boy who was beaten to death in Mississippi after he allegedly whistled at a white woman. Till's mother, Mamie, held an open-casket funeral because, she said, "I wanted the world to see what they did to my baby."
More recently, Jet has highlighted celebrity news, although the magazine followed closely the case of slain Florida teen Jordan Davis, who was featured on Jet's cover in January 2013.
Davis, 17, was killed in November 2012 by Michael Dunn, who is white, when Dunn opened fire on a sport utility vehicle carrying four unarmed black teenagers during an argument over loud rap music at a gas station in Jacksonville, Fla. Dunn was found guilty of three counts of second-degree attempted murder, but the jury deadlocked on the most serious charge, first-degree murder in the killing of Davis. The judge declared a mistrial. Jet made an effort to be closely identified with the story.
Wednesday's news release repeated the catchphrase: "If it isn't in JET, it didn't happen."
That might have been truer for past generations. D. Michael Cheers, associate professor of photojournalism at San Jose State University, messaged Journal-isms, "Last fall, I was invited to address a group of San Jose high school students who had interest in journalism. I gave a brief overview of my background that included my stints at JET and EBONY.
"One student sheepishly asked: 'Dr. Cheers, what's JET magazine?' "
Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune: Jet ending print publication
Lynne Marek, Crain's Chicago Business: With Jet shifting to digital, Johnson Publishing puts biggest bet on Ebony
Caysey Welton, Folio:: JET Magazine Going All Digitial in June
Suddenly, it seems, the story of the hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped last month has become a cause celebre, warranting front-page stories, public support from President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama and protests around the world.
It comes after others had wondered aloud why the human horror hadn't received more media attention.
"I have a theory," Omoyele Sowore, founder of Sahara Reporters, a New York-based multimedia platform staffed by citizen reporters in the Nigerian diaspora.
"The search for the airplane ended abruptly," Sowore told Journal-isms by telephone, referring to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished on March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. "And the international media definitely moved to South Korea," site of the ferry disaster that killed more than 260 people last month.
"They were looking for the next big story, and this was perfect."
For Sowore, it was about time. It's now 23 days since the abductions took place, and they are not the first acts of terror committed by Nigeria's militant Islamist group Boko Haram. In February, 29 students at an all-boys school were killed by the same group to a virtual worldwide silence. In 2012, this column reported that the group was believed to be behind coordinated attacks on three media houses, killing no fewer than nine people.
"We've documented so much of the atrocities," Sowore said, "but nobody paid attention, and suddenly there's no more big story except this."
In the United States, lawyer Gina McCauley, whose What About Our Daughters website attracted attention in 2008 by spotlighting cases of missing black women and girls, was among those who took notice of the abducted schoolgirls.
"What about BLACK media?" McCauley tweeted this week. "If 'mainstream' media wasn't waking up, we would see nothing in the Black press #BringBackOurGirls."
She elaborated in a message to Journal-isms, "No one's hands are clean in this atrocity. . . . NO [American] media has been paying attention to the atrocities in Nigeria. There is plenty of blame to go around.
"I am not a fan of #hashtag activism, however, my readers were anguished about the story when I shared it and other than public ridicule and shame, how do you get a sovereign nation to care about its own citizens? I also called my elected officials and just heard back from the State Department.
"Black press should have been leading the way, but what else is new?
"This is one of those stories where traditional journalists could provide some much needed geo-political context to this entire conversation."
Social media are widely being credited for pushing the story so that it gained the attention of the mainstream media, though such news shows as NPR's "Tell Me More" did programs on the abductions as early as April 16.
Mark Berman of the Washington Post wrote Wednesday that coverage intensified this week after the leader of the Nigerian Islamist group responsible for the kidnapping described the girls as "slaves" and threatened to sell them.
Representatives of the Post, Los Angeles Times and New York Times were not available for comment Wednesday, but the Associated Press was happy to note the work of correspondent Michelle Faul, its Nigeria bureau chief.
"One reason the story has generated increasing attention is because AP Nigeria Bureau Chief Michelle Faul (based in Lagos) has been all over it, including her report yesterday recounting how one girl escaped the abductors," AP spokesman Paul Colford said by email.
"And the wider broadcast media have noticed and echoed Michelle's enterprise — from NPR to BBC to NBC — all today," Colford added, listing Faul's Wednesday broadcast appearances and a link to Faul's other work.
Sowore, of Sahara Reporters, is less concerned about media coverage than about getting help to the Nigerians who are directly affected. Some escaped their abductors; others are yet to be located.
"There are acres and acres of hashtags out there," Sowore said of social media support for the schoolgirls. "But the people who really need help are really on the ground." They will and do need psychological help and schooling; the roof of their school was blown up. "Don't get me wrong," he said. "They need the attention. But what's most important is to save the girls and whatever is left of their dignity and their humanity. We don't have much time. Imagine they were trapped on a boat that sank and we had assurances that they were still alive. Is this how we would react?
"The world has attention deficit disorder for causes. You've got to ask, how long will they stay on this before they move on to something else?"
Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: Bring our daughters home, and Mona Sinclair runs for office.
Mark Berman, Washington Post: Anger over kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls sparks protests in the U.S.
Jasmyne Cannick, EURWeb.com: The Only Nigerians Americans Care About Are the Homophobic Ones
Arturo R. García, Racialicious: #BringBackOurGirls: Protesters Worldwide Rally For Nigerian Kidnapping Victims
David Hudson, White House Blog: U.S. to Help Nigeria in the Search for Kidnapped Girls
A.O. Scruggs, alldigitocracy.org: #BringBackOurGirls: How the story is being covered
Darlene Superville, Associated Press: First Lady Calls for Return of Nigerian Girls
Matt Wilstein, Mediaite: NBC’s Brian Williams Mixes Up Kenya and Nigeria
MSNBC apologized on the air Tuesday and Wednesday for airing a Cinco de Mayo segment that included a sombrero-wearing, tequila-swilling correspondent, Louis Burgdorf. In response to his protests, Hugo Balta, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, said, "I received phone calls from MSNBC president Phil Griffin, Executive Producer Alex Korson and other NBCUniversal leaders."
Balta wrote to members Wednesday, "MSNBC isn't the only network that should be criticized for this type of behavior. ABC Good Morning America's Laura Spencer's tasteless quip, 'Cinco de Drinko' is yet another example of the dozens of poor decisions made by media outlets.
"It isn't about being overly sensitive or lacking a sense of humor as some have [chastised] me. It is the lack of understanding of how these types of images continue to discredit a community struggling for a place at the table.
"The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) released a study in 2012 demonstrating how negative media narratives and portrayals of Latinos shape the opinions of non-Latinos. The survey found that the stereotypes participants believed to be true reflected images, characters, and stories encountered in television, film, and radio.
"One of the most rewarding comments I received was from a local television general manager who said he used the MSNBC segment as a learning tool with his staff. He played the video and had a candid discussion about how to avoid such mistakes and the importance of being cognizant in their daily work.
"It is my hope that other newsrooms are having similar conversations. NAHJ champions for the fair and accurate treatment of Latinos at the workplace and in the content produced by media. Our association has and will continue to work with media companies in improving processes towards that end.
"The MSNBC incident is also a stark reminder of the need for newsrooms to be reflective of the community they cover. . . ."
Catherine Taibi, Huffington Post: Thomas Roberts Apologizes For Offensive Cinco De Mayo Segment
"Happy White History Month!" (audio) host Maria Hinojosa begins in introducing a satirical report on this week's "Latino USA," which airs on NPR.
"For our fiction edition, Latino USA producer Brenda Salinas tries her hand at satire by reporting about white Americans the same way other communities get covered.
"They're 80 percent of [Congress], 86 percent of Fortune 500 [CEOs], 94 percent of Oscar voters and 93 percent of Oscar winners. They invented [light bulbs], airplanes, fake butter and the internet. They founded institutions of higher learning all over the country. They ended slavery.
"Despite all of these achievements, the Non-Hispanic white population is shrinking every year. But just who are white people? Latino USA producer Brenda Salinas went to Times Square to find out more about the history of these proud people."
"A veteran Virginia journalist who has been called 'the oppressed people’s correspondent' has been named the 2014 recipient of the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award," the National Society of Newspaper Columnists announced on Monday.
"Michael Paul Williams, metro columnist and reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, will be honored at a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol on Friday, June 27, during the annual conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists in Washington, D.C.
"For more than three decades Williams has built a reputation for never being afraid to take sides on hot-button issues. He said in a 2012 interview that “afflicting the comfortable” is part of a columnist’s job description. He also believes 'humanitarianism, by definition, should be a journalist’s highest calling.' . . . ”
In 2010, when Williams received the George Mason Award from the Society of Professional Journalists-Virginia Pro Chapter, he recalled when being a black reporter at the Times-Dispatch was a liability.
"I came into this profession 28 years ago, without much of a clue. The profession had found me, but I hadn’t found myself or my place in journalism.
"I could hammer out perfectly serviceable copy filled with the 5 Ws and the H. But the S — the soul — was missing. What was I doing here?
"I started my career at the Richmond Times-Dispatch at a time when black reporters were still viewed as a liability. I remember reading as much during an anonymous survey of colleagues who said we weren’t up to the prevailing standards.
"I’d leave the newsroom pen and pad in hand and venture into the black community I vowed to give voice to, only to be treated like a traitor.
"Richmond Times-Disgrace, I heard, again and again. I thought it was ironic that so many people held me in contempt for wanting to tell their story. Back then, I was a proud member of the T-D Black Caucus. Even though our beats were diverse, we shared the mission of promoting fairer, richer coverage of the black community and helping to create more opportunity for the young black journalists behind us.
"It wasn’t until a decade after my hiring that I found my personal journalistic calling. . . " He became a columnist.
"New England Cable News said two top news managers left the station yesterday," O'Ryan Johnson reported Wednesday for the Boston Herald.
"No details were provided about why news director Nannette Hobson and assistant news director Bob Keating will no longer be employed there.
" 'We will immediately begin a nationwide search for a new news director for NECN,' general manager Michael St. Peters said in an email to employees. . . ."
According to her LinkedIn profile, Hobson was director of digital journalism at WNCN-TV in Raleigh, N.C., from 2003 to 2010, and worked previously at WRC-TV in Washington as assistant news director and executive producer. The Herald said neither she nor Keating could not be reached for comment.
"Bill Nunn Jr., a black sports reporter for The Pittsburgh Courier, still could not sit in the press box at Forbes Field three years after Jackie Robinson started for the Brooklyn Dodgers," Andrew Conte wrote Wednesday for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
"But on a May night in 1950, the white members of the Baseball Writers Association of America finally relented: He could sit with them when a team with a black player came to town. The Pirates remained all-white.
" 'Strangely enough, upon entering the press box Tuesday night, no brass band struck up, "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here"…' Nunn wrote that week. 'Believe it or not, the seats didn't catch on fire when I sat down. Actually no fanfare was involved. That's the way it should have been.'
"Later, as a scout for the [Pittsburgh] Steelers in the late 1960s, Nunn identified and made connections with players from historically black colleges and universities who helped build the Pittsburgh Steelers' Super Bowl teams. Throughout his life, Nunn played an often unceremonious role in breaking down racial barriers across sports and in American life.
"Nunn suffered a stroke recently while evaluating college players in the Steelers' South Side draft room that bears his name and likeness. He died late Tuesday at age 89. . . ."
David Steele, Sporting News: Bill Nunn, scout who helped build Steelers' 1970s dynasty, dies at 89
"Norman Lumpkin, a journalist described as a legend in black broadcasting, has died," Kym Klass reported Tuesday for the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser.
A spokesman for Ross-Clayton Funeral Home in Montgomery confirmed that Lumpkin died in Montgomery on Tuesday. His age was not immediately available.
Lumpkin, worked for radio stations in Montgomery and Indianapolis, Ind., before being hired by WSFA in 1969 as the station's first African-American TV reporter. He is remembered by local African-American historian Richard Bailey as "forceful, thorough and believable.
" 'Norman Lumpkin personifies black broadcasting,' he said. 'When you start talking about the legends, you're talking about Norman Lumpkin. His name is synonymous with black broadcasting.' . . ."
[On Thursday, Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., delivered a tribute to Lumpkin on the House floor. (video)]
"On May 16, the Newseum will open 'One Nation With News for All,' a new exhibit that tells the dramatic story of how immigrants and minorities used the power of the press to fight for their rights and shape the American experience," the Newseum, the museum of news in the nation's capital, announced on April 30. " 'News for All' was created in partnership with the Smithsonian's Our American Journey project.
"The exhibit features 60 artifacts, including press passes used by Univision co-anchors María Elena Salinas and Jorge Ramos while covering international news events, and a [step stool] used by Pullman porters, black railroad car attendants who distributed the influential Chicago Defender in the South, where Northern papers were often confiscated and banned by whites. Also on display in 'News for All' are a composing stick and lead type used by Benjamin Franklin to publish his newspapers, Memphis Free Speech publisher Ida B. Wells's diary and Frederick Douglass's pocket watch, engraved 'F. Douglass' on the back.
"Visitors also will see some of the country's first ethnic newspapers, including Freedom's Journal, the first black newspaper, launched in 1827 to fight for equal rights and demand an end to slavery; and the Cherokee Phoenix, the first Native American newspaper, which was founded in 1828 to champion the rights of Indians and now publishes monthly in print and online. These and other newspapers helped millions of immigrants become part of America while keeping them informed about their homelands. . . ."
Cherokee Phoenix Editor Bryan Pollard explained that the Phoenix publishes daily to the web and social media, weekly via e-newsletter and radio, and monthly in print.
This columnist has a small role in the exhibit, reading on film a passage by Robert Abbott, founder of the Chicago Defender. The exhibit is scheduled through Jan. 4. 2015, with a media preview to take place May 15 from 10 a.m. to noon. Members of the media may RSVP to Caroline Markoski at cmarkoski (at) newseum.org.
"D.C. Breakdown," a political talk show with a "Southern cultural perspective" that began broadcasting weeknights on April 21 on the new Soul of the South Network, will debut May 19 on Washington's WHUT-TV, the Howard University public television station, network president Doug McHenry told Journal-isms on Wednesday.
The move puts the network, which has chiefly operated on digital subchannels and on cable, on a broadcast channel in the nation's capital with a national news program targeting African Americans, McHenry said by telephone. "We felt it important to do it in the nation's capital," he said. McHenry added that the show would feature "high-level guests," but said he could not identify them yet. "There's more to life than just entertainment," he added. "Our community deserves a full meal."
Hosted by Angela Rae, the hour-long show originates at 7 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Central time from Washington's National Press Building. It is to air the following morning at 8 a.m. on WHUT. The network is available in these markets. (video).
Roland Martin hosts a daily political talk show, "NewsOne Now," on the TV One cable channel.
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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.