February 14, 1952 Jet cover with Acquanetta.
|Former editors||Mitzi Miller|
|Frequency||online, formerly a print weekly|
|Publisher||Ebony Media Operations, LLC |
Johnson Publishing Company
|Founder||John H. Johnson|
|First issue||November 1, 1951|
|Final issue||June 2014 (print)|
continuing in digital (2014)
|Based in||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
Jet is a magazine marketed to African-American readers now distributed in digital format. It was founded in 1951 by John H. Johnson of the Johnson Publishing Company in Chicago, Illinois, as an American weekly. Initially billed as "The Weekly Negro News Magazine", Jet chronicled the Civil Rights Movement from its earliest years, including the murder of Emmett Till, the Montgomery bus boycott, and the activities of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King
Published in small digest-sized format from its inception in 1951, Jet printed in all or mostly black-and-white until its December 27, 1999 issue. In 2009, Jets publishing format was changed; it was published every week with a double issue published once each month. Johnson Publishing Company published the final print issue, June 23, 2014, continuing solely as a digital magazine app. In 2016, Johnson Publishing sold Jet and its sister publication Ebony to private equity firm Clear View Group. The publishing company is now known as Ebony Media Corporation.
Jet magazine was established in 1951. Johnson called his magazine Jet because, as he said in the first issue, "In the world today everything is moving along at a faster clip. There is more news and far less time to read it." (The phrase "jet black" derives from jet, a mineraloid.) Redd Foxx called the magazine "the Negro bible."Jet became nationally known in 1955 with its shocking and graphic coverage of the murder of Emmett Till. Its ubiquity was enhanced by its continuing coverage of the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement.
In May 2014, the publication announced the print edition would be discontinued and switch to a digital format in June.
In June 2016, after 71 years, Jet and its sister publication Ebony (but not their photo archives) were sold by Johnson Publishing to Clear View Group, an Austin, Texas-based private equity firm, for an undisclosed amount. In July 2019, three months after Johnson Publishing filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy liquidation, it sold its historic Jet and Ebony photo archives to a consortium of foundations to be made available to the public.
Jet contained fashion and beauty tips, entertainment news, dating advice, political coverage, health tips, and diet guides, in addition to covering events such as fashion shows. The cover photo usually corresponds to the focus of the main story. Some examples of cover stories might be a celebrity's wedding, Mother's Day, or a recognition of the achievements of a notable African American. Many issues are given coverage to show the African-American community that if they want to reach a goal, they have to be willing to work for it. Jet also claims to give young female adults confidence and strength because the women featured therein are strong and successful without the help of a man. Since 1952, Jet has had a full-page feature called "Beauty of the Week". This feature includes a photograph of an African-American woman in a swimsuit (either one-piece or two-piece, but never nude), along with her name, place of residence, profession, hobbies, and interests. Many of the women are not professional models and submit their photographs for the magazine's consideration. The purpose of the feature is to promote the beauty of African-American women.
Like the other leading black magazine, Essence, Jet routinely deplored racism in mainstream media, especially in the negative depictions of black men and women. However Hazell and Clarke report that Jet and Essence in 2003-4 themselves ran advertising that was pervaded with racism and white supremacy.