The historically revered Jet Magazine (pictured) that has been a staple in the Black community since its inception nearly 63 years ago released its final print issue on June 9th. The digest-sized publication is a celebration of sorts, with the mag’s most-iconic covers capturing the history from newsmakers to entertainers to entrepreneurs to politicos. In a cost-savings move, Jet will transition from a print to digital-only format and this is expected to take place on June 30th.
The 700,000 subscriber publication is No. 3 on the totem pole as far as circulation figures compared to other Black magazines, such as Ebony and Essence. Jet was also a weekly until most recently, when it switched to a publication schedule of about every three weeks or so. Jet’s content ran the gamut, covering everything from news, fashion and beauty, entertainment, nutrition, health. The magazine also maintained its famed “Beauty of the Week”page, where an African-American woman is featured in a swimsuit along with some quick bulleted info about her. This tradition was started so that Black women could be celebrated as beauties globally.
The magazine’s founder, John H. Johnson, first called Jet “The Weekly Negro News Magazine,” with the intention that it would be a vehicle to chronicle the then-simmering goings-on of the Civil Rights Movement. The magazine, published in black and white until 1999, became a kind of bible for many in the Black community. Later down the line, Jet also became a place where Blacks could herald their marriages and anniversaries.
When Johnson’s daughter, Linda Johnson Rice, took the magazine’s reigns a few years ago, she made the decision to contemporize the publication, telling the New York Times, “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,’” Rice contends. “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.”
Now Jet is going digital, joining the ranks of many others who have also suffered ad revenue woes. According to Desiree Rogers, chief executive of the company and former White House social secretary for the Obama administration, the magazine is being geared toward a younger readership who is pressed for time, wants their news delivered succinctly, and desires interactive content as well. Rogers told The New York Times, “African-Americans skew higher than the rest of the population in getting their news and information from mobile devices.”