Johnson Rice Steps Down as CEO of Johnson Publishing

Handing reigns to former White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, she remains as chairman

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Rice resigns as CEO but retains Chairman position

Linda Johnson Rice has stepped down as CEO of Johnson Publishing Co. (No. 22 on the BE Industrial Service Companies list with $200 million in revenues), publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines. She will remain chairman of the company, a post she’s held since 2008. Desiree Rogers, who was most recently White House Social Secretary has been chosen to serve as CEO in her stead.

Rice is the daughter of the late John Johnson who founded Ebony magazine in 1945. Joining the company in 1980, she served in a variety of roles. She took over company operations as president and COO in 1987 and was appointed CEO in 2002, assuming the title of chairman a few years later.

Rogers' appointment as consultant takes on a new definition

Rogers joined the Chicago-based publishing company this past June. She was hired as a consultant to assist with corporate strategy. Rogers achieved a level of infamy in December of last year when she took the fall for a couple trespassing at a state dinner hosted by the White House. She stepped down from her White House position in March.

Ebony and Jet are persevering during the recession; both publications underwent editorial and visual redesigns–Ebony in 2004 and Jet this year. But that doesn’t mean Johnson Publishing Co. has been without transition.

  • The company lost its cofounder, Eunice Johnson, in January of this year, which prompted Ebony Fashion Fair, which she founded, to go on hiatus. There has been no word about when the company might resume its shows.
  • In February, Magic Johnson Enterprises tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a deal to buy Johnson Publishing Co.
  • Last month, author and magazine exec Amy DuBois Barnett was appointed Ebony’s editor-in-chief, replacing author and lifestyle coach, Harriette Cole, who stepped down from Ebony as creative director and acting editor-in-chief after more than three years in that position.
  • Also in July, Anne Sempowski Ward, who had served as president and COO at Ebony since 2008 resigned her position after giving birth in May.
  • Debra

    Good luck to Desiree Rogers with her new position with Ebony and Jet, hopefully bringing new ideas and page turning articles back. No thanks to previous poor choices with this magazine her hands will be full. She stated she is working to get the community and customers back, this is my advise on how to get this ball rolling. Start by creating a REAL magazine with complete page turning articles. People still want to sit down and relax while reading, also its very disappointing to be advised to log online for more article details or to finish reading something, customers subscribe and purchase books so they don’t have log on! Thank goodness Desiree Rogers was born in 1959 and she knows how comforting it is to read, relax and HOLD the magazine without having to stop and log online – so I and many other customers will WELCOME the Big return of Ebony and Jet a full magazine and say goodbye to skimpy articles and thinning books! P.S. Please start including historical articles not just the references but the complete article in each issue the pictures and all, readers will appreciate this – trust, customers will return for sure!

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