Chicago-based JET magazine to go digital-only

Written By BY SANDRA GUY Staff Reporter Posted: 05/07/2014, 04:58pm

JET magazine, the digest-sized sister publication to Ebony magazine and the No. 3 magazine in the African-American market, will cease print editions on June 30 and go digital-only.

Johnson Publishing Co., the 72-year-old Chicago-based owner of Ebony and JET, announced Wednesday that JET magazine will be available through a $20-a-year subscription app.

The weekly digital JET magazine app will work on all tablet devices and mobile platforms, said Desiree Rogers, chief executive officer of Johnson Publishing.

The app will include new features such as video interviews, 3D and digital maps and photography both in breaking news and from the magazine’s archives. Breaking news will be updated daily.

JET’s print schedule had previously been reduced from a weekly edition to every three weeks because the printing and postage had become cost-prohibitive, said company spokesman Keith Estabrook.

Johnson Publishing had redesigned JET and brought in new editors in the past few years, but JET’s fortunes waned. JET’s ad revenues dropped 17 percent in the first quarter of this year from the year-ago period, and its ad pages declined 26 percent in the same period, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

JET, a 700,000-circulation magazine heralded for chronicling the early civil rights movement, will publish a yearly “Best of JET” print edition and will continue to operate its website,

“This allows Johnson Publishing to have different configurations under one umbrella — the JET magazine app,, the print Ebony magazine and,” Rogers said. “We’re reaching customers where they want to be reached in whatever distribution channel they want to be in.”

The decision to create a JET magazine app has been three years in the making and comes as digital readers are skewing younger, Rogers said.

JET’s readership is 40 percent male and 60 percent female with an average age of 36. JET is much more of a quick read, featuring issues impacting the community and wedding announcements and R&B playlists that appeal to the entire community, she said.

Rogers said Ebony will continue as a print publication because it’s a longer, more “pictorial” read.

JET’s print subscribers who decline digital JET subscriptions will be given the option of switching their subscriptions to Ebony magazine. Ebony, the No. 1 African-American market magazine with 1.28 million circulation, saw its ad revenues jump 12 percent in the first quarter of this year from the year-ago period, and its ad pages increase 2.3 percent in the same period.

Linda Johnson Rice, chairman of Johnson Publishing Co., said in a statement, “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.’”

“He could not have spoken more relevant words today,” Johnson said. “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.”

Kyra Kyles, formerly a senior editor of JET magazine and digital managing editor of, has been appointed the digital editorial director for JET online, which includes both the app and the website.

Email: sguy

Twitter: @sandraguy

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