John H. Johnson founded Johnson Publishing in 1942, when he was 24 years old, with $500 that he obtained by securing a loan against his mother’s furniture. He then began publishing a magazine that he called Ebony, a publication that focuses on African American history and culture. At one time, Martin Luther King Jr. was employed as an Ebony advice columnist. Since that time, the magazine has been the winner of a Pulitzer Prize.
Desiree Rogers was appointed CEO of Johnson Publishing two years ago. Linda Johnson Rice, Roger’s best friend and daughter of the founder, John H. Johnson, is the chairwoman of Johnson Publishing. In addition to Ebony, the publishing company owns Jet magazine.
Under the leadership of Rogers and Johnson, Ebony has begun to publish content that falls outside the normally conservative content that Ebony has historically published. In the December 2012-January 2013 issue of Ebony, a photograph of NeNe Leakes was published on the cover of the magazine. Leakes, a “Real Housewife of Atlanta” and star of “The New Normal”, was featured sitting in a bathtub that was filled with diamonds while holding a champagne flute. Many Ebony readers are shocked, and do not believe that the photograph fits with the type of magazine that Ebony has historically been. They think it is especially inappropriate because that same issue featured a list of influential African Americans called the Ebony Power 100.
Rogers stated that her goal is to modernize Ebony and make the magazine a lifestyle brand. Toward that goal, along with publishing controversial content, Ebony has redesigned its logo and has added a slogan on the spine of the magazine cover. Rogers stated that Ebony’s readers are rooting for them to turn the magazine around and modernize it.
Read more at The New York Times.