Johnson Publishing Files for Bankruptcy

Ebony and Jet have long been staples of the African-American media landscape.

Ebony and Jet have long been staples of the African-American media landscape. On Tuesday, Johnson Publishing, which created the magazines, filed for bankruptcy.

By Free Radical

Johnson Publishing, which for decades, printed the iconic magazines, Ebony and Jet, filed for bankruptcy Tuesday in Chicago. The sale, however, will not impact distribution of Ebony or Jet, which had already been sold in 2016.

The company released a statement that expressed that they were “caught in a tidal wave of marketplace changes and business issues which, despite exhaustive efforts, could not be overcome.”

John H. Johnson founded Johnson Publishing Company in 1942 by borrowing $500 against his mother’s furniture. From this humble start, the company grew into a multimillion dollar venture focusing on publishing and cosmetics. The covers of its Ebony and Jet newsmagazines consistently featured the “who’s who” of Black America.

The newspapers was also crucial in documenting the most pressing issues of the day. Jet for example made the history changing decision to feature images of Emmit Till, a Chicago fourteen year older who was savagely lynched while visiting family in Mississippi. The publication of Till’s body helped spark the Civil Rights Movement. The overall success of his business ventures made Johnson one of the wealthiest Black men in the United States.

Johnson passed in 2005 and his media holdings had a difficult time navigating the new landscape brought forth by the internet.

The Johnson Publishing Company has recently stated that it has a potential buyer that is committed to “advancing cultural preservation, supporting community-based businesses and building and operating legacy brands.” However any sale would have to be approved by bankruptcy court.

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