'Rebirth of an Icon': Ebony Magazine Set to Digitally Relaunch Today, No Plans for Print Just Yet

Illustration for article titled 'Rebirth of an Icon': Ebony Magazine Set to Digitally Relaunch Today, No Plans for Print Just Yet
Screenshot: Ebony Magazine Homepage

On Monday, Ebony Magazine relaunched in digital format and announced a subsequent panel discussion set to touch on all things new at the legendary magazine.

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Per The Chicago Tribune, the site will be completely ad-supported and updated with daily stories centering around Black news and culture. Freelance writers will be in charge of providing the content (whew, boy) and as of now, there are no plans to enact a digital subscription charge to view the articles. There are also no plans to return to print, but newly appointed Ebony CEO Michele Ghee is still excited about what’s to come and hopes readers past and present will stay along for this new chapter.

“We’re going to ask for grace, because we did this quickly,” Ghee told The Chicago Tribune. “But we are in a rush to show that we have great intentions. Our commitment is not to any city, but to the Black community. We know who our boss is and our boss is them, and their opportunity to have the truth. And we want to provide that.” In an effort to provide further insight into this new chapter, the digital platform will be hosting a virtual panel discussion at 7 p.m. ET on its Facebook and YouTube page. Ghee, along with new Ebony Owner Eden Bridgeman, Kenny Burns, Kelly Price, Jason Carter, Reverend James Woodall and Shanti Das have all been tapped to speak.

Launching in tandem with the new site, Ebony released a “Love Letter to Black America” with Ghee expressing her intentions and overall hopes for the re-launch:

A new beginning, that’s what I want Ebony and JET to be for you. A home for Black storytellers and honest reflections of the totality of Black lives. I want Ebony and JET to be a place for us to find healing and truth, to elevate our lives and be a place for us to laugh and be free. The times we are living in keeps reminding us the world loves Black culture, but do they love Black people? We must keep interrogating a society that will use the bits and parts of a people but discard the reality of their lives. We no longer have to accept folks loving what we create yet not loving the creators.

At the new Ebony and JET, we will build a community, invite those who love Black culture and Black people. In 1945, John H. Johnson had a vision for the Black community, one that allowed a more complete reflection of ourselves, our bold perseverance and pride, our brilliance and beauty, authentic reporting by, for, and about Black people. The new Ebony will pay homage to our powerful past by understanding that we, too, are history in the making. Family, I am writing you to say it’s a new day. Our proud owner Eden Bridgeman and myself are Black women determined to win not only for our families, but for your families as well. On this important, historic journey, we are building a company fueled by technology while tapping into the best creative talent around.

Grant us grace as we grow. Watch us work. It’s time to claim all that is good. Come with me as we rebuild this platform of Black expression and information. I say this with my whole entire soul: Ebony is here to love Black culture but our mission is to lift Black lives.

It’s been nearly one year since Ebony’s site shut down to rebrand, initially having projected it would only take two days. But no thanks to this seemingly never-ending pandemic, things were pushed off and had to be rearranged. “I think we’re going to come out with a different face and a different approach, but we will definitely come back looking different,” Sabrina Taylor, Ebony Chief Communications Officer and Head of Development, told The Root last April.

A different look it certainly is. Hopefully along with this new site will come new and fresh ways to revamp and revitalize Ebony’s place in the Black cultural impact space. After all, despite all its flaws, faults, and missteps, the 75-year-old magazine’s legacy is one that cannot be understated—and that’s exactly why it’s also getting both the celebratory print and documentary treatment, thanks to Lavaille Lavette and Lisa Cortes, respectively. Released at the top of Black History Month, author and educator Lavette specially curated Ebony: Covering Black America which, per Penguin Random House includes a “treasure trove of the magazine’s rich history, glamorous covers, groundbreaking cultural impact, and authentic coverage of Black American life from the magazine’s inception to the present.”

Additionally, the upcoming Ebony documentary The Empire of Ebony from All In: The Fight for Democracy producer Lisa Cortes and Roger Ross Williams (which we previously told you about here at The Root) will explore “the rise of Ebony and Jet and their growth into a brand with a readership base in the millions which has had an undeniable effect on American culture. This will include the important role these publications played in illuminating key moments in American history that went unreported by the mainstream media.”

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As someone who unofficially took on my great-grandmother’s unspoken mantle of collecting Ebony/Essence/Jet magazines over the years, I’m super interested in seeing what this new iteration of Ebony has in store.

DISCUSSION

Whewww, chile, just pay them writers. That’s all I ask, dear Ebony.