Johnson Publishing Co. Called "Under Siege"
These pictures taken at an airport news stand the other day.
Indeed the Obama's are popular subjects for Johnson Publishing and Essence.
I am not complaining about the frequency of their appearance in the magazines. Johnson now has a White House correspondent due to the historic nature of the Obama presidency.
My issue, however, is as the top edge title on Essence suggests. Great they are promoting the Obama Administration's plan to address HIV in Black women. We know that this is the fastest growing group for HIV infection. I am happy that the Obama Administration is giving this a priority.
My question is - What happens after 4 years and no effective change has been made in this area? Does Johnson Publishing and Essence begin to ask more critical and skeptical questions about the Obama Administration or do they keep working as their "marketing arm"?
In essence this cuts to the fundamental question about the purpose of our political activism AND the key purpose of the Black press. Are they to push the "progressive" line that is popular within Black America or is their mission to "call it as it is", regardless of who takes the hit and without regard to the target's ideological alignment with their own?
For those of you who are not as concerned with Johnson Publishing's journalistic independence - at least you can make sure they remain as a going concern by subscribing to their products during their time of financial pressure.
Building Mortgaged; Firm Hit With Contractors' Liens
"Ebony owner Johnson Publishing Co. is under siege, battered by sharp drops in advertising and circulation amid the most severe downturn in its 67-year history. In the past three months, Johnson has been hit with contractors' liens claiming the company failed to pay for work worth nearly $500,000," Eddie Baeb and Ann Saphir wrote Monday in Crain's Chicago Business.
"In May, Johnson mortgaged its South Michigan Avenue headquarters building and parking garage to its printer, R. R. Donnelley & Sons Co. Loan documents say the deal secured previous debts to Donnelley totaling $12.7 million — another sign of financial distress for the nation's largest black-owned publishing company.
"Johnson's troubles, while not that different from other publishing companies', fall on the shoulders of Chairman and CEO Linda Johnson Rice, daughter of founder John Johnson. Ms. Rice, 50, must remake her organization amid a downturn that is hitting African-American media especially hard. The slump compounds the challenge she faces in revitalizing magazines many still associate with the civil rights era.
"'They have a set of challenges that go beyond those of companies that are not black-owned,' says Ken Smikle, president and publisher of Chicago-based Target Market News, which monitors African-American media. Advertisers are slashing budgets that already were under-allocated to black-targeted media, he says — 'all those things coming at a time when the company had invested in upgrading their magazines,' Mr. Smikle says. [Smikle bought Black Issues Book Review in 2006 and said in April he would have a statement soon on the future of the publication, which has not appeared in more than a year.]
"Last year, revenue at Johnson, which also publishes weekly news magazine Jet, fell 28% to $328 million, while headcount tumbled to 340 from 503, according to the company, which is privately held but provides some financial data for Crain's list of Chicago's largest private companies," the Crain's story continued.
"Ms. Rice declined to be interviewed, but in an e-mail the company called the mortgage and a $2.6-million trade credit from Donnelley a 'prudent' move. It acknowledges the liens and says 'we fully intend' to pay the contractors.
"'It's no secret that the entire publishing industry, including Johnson Publishing Co., is feeling the pressure of the current economy,' the statement says. "And, like any conservatively managed company, we're taking whatever precautions we believe are prudent to give us the necessary resources to weather the current economy.'"
As previously reported, Ebony has asked freelancers to write for free, and undergone upheavals in personnel. The Johnson Publishing Co. Web site shows it is still seeking an editor in chief for Ebony, a photo editor for Jet, an art designer for Ebony and a copy editor/writer for Jet.