May 7, 2014 Last Updated 4:09 pm

Johnson Publishing said to take Jet Magazine digital-only in June

Update: new app to be released “on all tablet devices and mobile platforms,” publisher says

The Chicago based publisher Johnson Publishing Company is expected to formally announce today that it will move its title Jet Magazine to digital-only. The company is also the publisher of Ebony.

Jet-Magazine-coverThe publisher was founded by John H. Johnson is 1942 and has been the premiere publisher of titles aimed at the African-American reader, and is the largest African-American-owned publishing firm in the U.S.

Jet Magazine was founded as a weekly news magazine in late 1951, and recently reduced its size to a digest sized publication in an effort to cut costs.

NOOK-JetThe NYT first reported the move to digital-only this morning. 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, chairwoman of Johnson Publishing, told the Times. “He could not have spoken truer words. We are not saying goodbye to Jet, we are embracing the future as my father did in 1951.”

But Johnson Publishing has not prepared Jet for the move to digital. Johnson Publishing has no digital edition for Jet, or Ebony for that matter, inside the Apple Newsstand, and the only digital edition it advertises on its website is for a NOOK edition – making it possibly the only magazine that promotes NOOK over either the Newsstand or Google Play. (The only app for a Johnson Publishing title is a replica edition app for Ebony that appears under the vendor’s name, RareWire.)

In its latest publisher’s statement, Jet Magazine reported a total paid subscriptions at 591,504, but of that total, only 6.764 was digital (though that number climbed to 7,847 in December).

Jet-malcolm-coverBut the move will likely mean a new app is coming as the move is scheduled to take place in June. As a smaller digest, the transition will, ironically, be far easier for Jet than for regularly sized print magazine. Digest sized magazines are around the size of the display of the iPad mini or smaller Kindle and NOOKs. But as the company has no track record with native tablet editions, any new digital edition may end up using a PDF solution so it can be featured online as well as in digital newsstands such as Zinio or Magzter.

Johnson Publishing added Desiree Rogers to its executive team as CEO in 2010. Rogers had served as the White House Social Secretary for President Obama. Rogers was a high profile addition to the company, though she has no publishing industry experience.

Also added to management last year was Cheryl Mayberry McKissack as Chief Operating Officer who is responsible of sales and marketing and is leading its digital media business. McKissack founded Nia Enterprises, an online community and research/marketing services company.

jet_cover_kindle_fireUpdate: a press release was finally forthcoming today that gives a few more details concerning the move to digital only. The publisher says that a new app will be coming as part of the move:

“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.”

Additionally, the publisher announced that Kyra Kyles, formerly a senior editor at Jet and digital managing editor of, will become the digital editorial director for JET online.

Note: the press release includes this picture of a digital issue on a tablet. Let’s hope they dump the scan code on the cover.

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