It is with great regret that we inform you of the death of JET magazine. Well… At least as we’ve known it.
Wednesday, JET announced the end of its print publication and the birth of a fulltime online format released as a weekly digital magazine app.
The print version of JET magazine, founded during the pre-civil rights era by the late great Johnson H. Johnson and wife Eunice Walker Johnson in 1951, focused on the overall beauty and sophistication of black culture and lifestyle during a time when society still considered people of African descent to be second class citizens.
In the beginning, JET was circulated via barber shops, beauty shops and lounges. But gained more mainstream credibility throughout the late 60s. During the civil rights era, JET was instrumental in nationalizing the tragedy of Emmett Till’s lynching, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the rise of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. From fashion and beauty tips, to entertainment news, dating advice, and politics this weekly publication was the go-to place for black folk news and their catchphrase, “If it isn’t in JET, it didn’t happen.”
Read by black households of yester-year, it was a hand-me-down of sorts. After Mom and Dad read it, the oldest child would skim through pages, and ultimately it was given to the youngest to scribble through. Comedian Red Foxx once derisively called JET “the Negro bible.”
Every African-American news outlet, whether print or digital, has a few strands of Johnson Publishing Company DNA embedded within them because of JET. And now, according to a statement released Wednesday, Johnson Publishing Company chairwoman Linda Johnson has announced that Jet will only be available online in a digital format.
“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 Ms. Rice. “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.”
JET magazine isn’t dead, but is it on life support? Well, yes and no. The move, if looked at in a vacuum, is a bit sad. Millions of people of all races and cultural influences have relied on JET to inform, entertain and make them aware of the plight of African-Americans. However, it is a part of a growing trend as the price of printing magazines continues to skyrocket and the cost of Internet publishing plummets. Advertisers now move toward cheaper online ad rates and the growing number of eyeballs addicted to the digital world.
We are aware that this is a business move. And although an annual special print addition will be published, it doesn’t make old school fans of black journalism feel any better. And brothers hope that the JET Beauties featured on page 43 of nearly every issue will be transferred online as well.
To all of the Taketha Chardonnay Jenkins’ of (Whatever HBCU) clad in scintillating bikinis? We will miss you most of all. Sure, it’s possible they could simply add the photos to the JET digital properties, but it just won’t be the same.
The last print copy of JET magazine will hit newsstands in June.