black media

Is Your Jet?

Recently the folks over at Johnson Publishing Company have pulled out the Hail Mary play in an attempt to stem the tide of rapidly sagging circulation on the print side. As sales of Ebony and Jet continued to decline, we watched JPC go through a reorganization, layoffs, and an ill-fated deal to sell to former Laker turned businessman Magic Johnson. In an attempt to change its murky future, JPC is refocusing its attention on the digital media space.

Johnson Publishing’s digital properties have undergone a rebirth and an identity shift., which was the hub site for the online editions of both Ebony and Jet magazines is now divided into two separate web properties.  Ebony remains housed at while Jet can be found at The most notable change at is a return to the original Ebony logo in the header. We’d know that logo anywhere. The content, though sparse, is pretty much the same.  However, is definitely ramping up to enter the increasingly crowded new media space, leading us to offer this humble diagnostic.

The Redesign

Taking a look at, it’s pretty easy on the eyes design-wise. Good sized vibrant pictures and it’s doesn’t overstimulate with busyness and it’s low on flash. Thank God.

The glaring exception to the design ebb and flow is definitely that oppressive Starbucks ad caressing the site’s content in a blatant capitalism sandwich. If you didn’t know any better, you might think that it was Starbucks’ site and Jet was the extra whipped cream on one of the company’s overly complicated coffee drinks. Yet, there is some good news even in that aesthetic faux pas: the site is sponsored.

As for the content at… Well – It’s basically the same as what’s in the magazine with some exceptions. You’ve still got your centerfolds beauties. The brothers at the barbershop don’t have to fight over dogeared paper issues of Jet to view the beauty of the week. Now they can access the site from their smartphones.

Digital will make it easier for Jet to update content that was at one time dated in the magazine. We don’t  have to wait for news. Yea!

In addition to the wedding and anniversary announcements as well as announcements of promotions, a notice on the site states that it will also feature engagement announcements. Will they charge for that service in the custom of online editions of newspapers? We’re not sure, because there is no media kit on the site to check rates.

There is a section containing branded video content that would be best served on the home page.  And the site will contain a beauty and fashion section that could, perhaps be better identified with and served on

There are some old elements missing that would invite more traffic to the site and drive its niche marketing objectives. They should replicate Jet’s focus on the activity of black organizations, who apart from black newspapers, have few media (old or new) outlets to send their news. And they need to recreate that last page of the magazine listing media (broadcast and cable) appearances by black notables, entertainers, celebrities and politicians. Frankly, that could be the money move for, which leads us to…

The Business Model

Without question the site seeks to attract a younger reader to the Jet brand. Brand recognition and loyalty, alone, will drive people to the site. Marketing will bring them there and keep them occupied. Content – great content – will undeniably do wonders for the flailing brand. But the question remains: Will the site save the magazine?

Older, established media brands such as Ebony and Jet take one thing for granted, and that’s the presence and power of newer, smaller new media outlets. Can survive against the competition (yep, I said com-pet-ti-tion) of niche sites that have been steadily rising in traffic, loyalty and profit?

In all honesty, a redesign is not enough.  Throwing up a website is not an answer and a website isn’t naturally qualified to be considered a formidable new media property.

Please stay tuned as we continue to monitor’s progress along with other prominent web properties.




Sad, aint it???

And somethin else too:

With EURweb new design as an example:

Im startin to notice a lotta Black sites is lookin like straight ad-farms!!!

Just my opinion tho.

Ima agree with you!!!

That redesign look like crap.

I went a lil outside the box with my design but I think it look good tho.

Plus my design free too.

Also too,

I feel like they didnt put too much time into puttin this site together either cause to me:

It look like some last minute crap they just throwed together.

Im done rantin now LOL!!!

erickaEIC says:

Jet's site captures the feel of the magazine's recent redesign, but I agree that the layout is average at best. Actually it feels a little awkward and unbalanced, since a lot of the homepage content is squeezed into boxes down the middle and there's so much white space along the sides.

I didn't see any functionality that makes the site standout. The “change text size” option is a cute idea but it didn't work when I tested it (I'm using Firefox). Links to Jet's YouTube, Facebook and Twitter presences don't even open in new windows, so they're directing interested visitors off their site. And I didn't see anything that links to Jet's sister site, I bet Johnson Publications paid a ton of money on this job, too. They got hustled, for real.

On brighter note, I like the Starbucks ad. I think it adds a little bit of flavor (no pun intended).

kevinmcfall says:

Will historically traditional and black oriented media brands ever get it right in the view of new media practitioners? While not defending the motive and the end result of the JPC team to launch, I will suggest that they might be forever swimming upstream. While it has been pointed out that they don't have to simply rely on trying to internalize and execute these kinds of efforts themselves and on the cheap, this is what they have chosen to do. As the audience and believers in the brand we have (at least through these comments) suggested that they have fallen short on delivering on the rich legacy of their brand. How many of us have pitched more viable alternatives in the form of consulting bids or otherwise to JPC or other iconic African American brands. If we are truly impassioned about the legacy why not grab the bulls by the horn and make them listen to how to get it right, not just through blog posts and comments, but with quantifiable metrics and examples laid out in a clear blueprint during a meeting in their offices? If then they don't listen guess what? You then become charged with creating the next new voice and the old media becomes relegated to a destination for archived history until such a time as the invaluable assets become available for licensing or acquisition.

On a side note, very few sites critiqued on BlackWeb2.0 ever come out unscathed in one category or another. The bar here is set very high…as it should be.

Rahsheen says:

Pretty harsh, but truth. I have 2 blogs with nicer themes than Jet's new website. They were both free. Is this the type of stuff we settle for? Is this all that black media thinks their community is worth?

rmcaldwell says:

Good morning, Navarrow! I'd wholeheartedly agree about launching a website. You've read and been a participant on the myriad posts on this site, where we've critiqued redesigns and websites of the old black media brands. Frankly, I believe all of the older brands have fallen short in launching new media properties that are functional and above the fray. Thank you for forcing me by reminder to be more honest and direct. We do have to raise our expectations but from behind the scenes I know we have and attempts have been made by other parties, still a patrician arrogance forbids the older brands from moving beyond what they think is right, spending the money on the consultants, content and talent – and above all – admitting that they are desperate for sustainable business models. AND let's not forget that many are still pandering to an audience who will follow them no matter what, so if the numbers are right and folks still come to the events and join the fan pages, where is the real need for doing anything more than what is being done?! That's the logic, Navarrow. And at the end of the day, the Internet has provided the means for other folks to invade the spaces the older brands use to occupy all by their lonesomes in print and broadcast. (I need a second cup of coffee now…sigh!) LOL

navarrowwright says:

I'm going to say it since no one else will. This new site is a mess especially given the fact it's from an iconic African American brand (which makes it worse). Aside from the Jet logo you can duplicate this look with a blog theme you could buy for $30. They are essentially just launching a “website” in a time when other media platforms are launching products that keep the unique “feel” that a magazine gives you while understanding that internet gives them the chance to do more. It was ironic that I read this story right after i watched the demo sports illustrated gave of their digital magazine at the Google conference (if you missed it take a look here

) , not to mention what magazines like Wired have created for platforms like the IPad. With the rich history of visual content that is in the ebony/ Jet archives they could have created something that was a true testament to how they have been a key part of African American culture through the years. But instead they just threw a website and sold us all short. We have to raise our expectations and force them to give us experiences that are on par with where mainstream media is going.

ThyBlackMan says:

I to like the re-design but? The content seems to be just a preview of what one can find in the next issue of JET mag which is publish weekly…

The new design definately screams new media, but yeah, that Starbucks ad is pretty much IN YOUR FACE!

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