'Jet' magazine ends print issues, will focus on digital

theGRIO REPORT - JET, one of the nation's premiere black publications, has decided to end their print issues and transition to digital publishing next month.

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

“If it’s not in JET, it didn’t happen.”

The popular catchphrase for one of the nation’s premiere black publications is keeping their promise as they end their print issues and transition to digital publishing in June.

For 63 years, JET magazine has delivered the biggest and most breaking news as it pertains to black America. It currently ranks as the third leading publication in the African-American market following Essence and Ebony.

Since 1951, the magazine has provided its readers with great storytelling, amazing photography and brilliant insight on a number of topics affecting the African-American community. In return, they’ve attracted and maintained a loyal readership base that they only expect to grow as they transition into a new direction.

“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,’” said Linda Johnson Rice, chairman of JPC.  “He could not have spoken more relevant words today.  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.”

The new focus has put an indefinite halt to the printing press, as their physical issues, which were published and distributed every three weeks, will no longer be available.

Instead, the magazine will be shifting their content online — a move many of the brand’s key executives are excited for considering the ongoing growth in technology and changes in media consumption.

“This is is something that we have been thinking about doing for a long time,” Cheryl  Mayberry McKissack, COO of Johnson Publishing, told theGrio. “We really felt that [our readers] were looking for something that would be able to meet their needs more frequently.”

In light of their new initiative, the brand is focusing their attention on three new digital missions. The first is re-designing and refreshing JETmag.com — with this mission, the brand hopes to establish a strong online presence that will include videos, social media sharing ability, short documentaries and more.

They will also be launching a paid subscription app that allows users to download a weekly digital magazine and provide original content in a new format. This new material includes enhanced digital maps, 3D charts and video interviews. Last, and perhaps the most interactive feature of all, is an Ebony and JET e-commerce store where readers and fans will have the ability to purchase merchandise related to stories and brands they feature.

In addition to these new initiatives, JET will also be publishing an annual print edition that will highlight and review some of their biggest moments of the year.

As for some of JET’s special and highly-recognized editorial content — such as their Beauty of the Week and Wedding features — they will continue to thrive but will now live through a more accessible means on the web.

While Johnson Publishing has ended their print edition of JET, they ensure that the brand’s sister company, Ebony, will continue to publish monthly. With over 1.25 million readers, Ebony has established itself as a leading publication, and it will only continue to grow as JET readers will likely join its fan base.

“Ebony will continue to enhance and now will have more subscribers from JET that will join  the family, so it makes the book even bigger than it is today,” McKissack said.

Considering Johnson Publishing’s impressive portfolio of products, McKissack and her team rest assured that this move for JET is one that will be promising and rewarding.

“It will all be just bigger and better,” she said. “We will just be doing more of what we’re already doing.”

Follow Lilly Workneh on Twitter @Lilly_Works