Jet Magazine Stays Compact, but With a New Design
By Tanzina Vega
Jet magazine is getting a makeover.
On Friday, the magazine’s owner, Johnson Publishing, announced a complete redesign for Jet in print and online — the first in the 62 years of the publication, long a staple in the black community. The new look for Jet includes brighter colors against a white background, more informational graphics, larger photos and new fonts.
Almost a year and a half ago, its sister publication, Ebony, unveiled an online redesign of its own, which was preceded by a print redesign. Since then, traffic to Ebony.com has increased substantially to more than 600,000 visitors in July from less than 100,000 visitors a year ago, said Desiree Rogers, the chief executive of Johnson Publishing, who is hoping for a similar bounce at Jet.
“People really did feel that it was time for a little bit of a makeover here,” said Desirée Rogers, the chief executive of Johnson Publishing. “These brands have been around for almost 70 years. You’ve got to change with the times.”
As part of the redesign, the Web sites Ebony.com and Jetmag.com will each link to the other’s Web site.
The Ebony redesign may also have helped the magazine’s advertising. The number of ad pages increased 4.2 percent from the second quarter in 2012 to the second quarter in 2013. Revenue from advertising also increased to $13.6 million in the second quarter of 2013 from $11.7 million in that quarter a year ago.
Ad revenue for Jet magazine increased a slight 2 percent in the second quarter in 2013, to $2.7 million, up from $2.62 million a year earlier, while the number of ad pages dipped 7.8 percent in the same time period.
While the redesigned Jet will keep some of its franchises — including its “Beauty of the Week” feature — it will also include condensed sections that focus on celebrity, news, entertainment and lifestyle.
The changes will also be felt in the editorial content, with Jet writers doing more original reporting and less aggregation, said Mitzi Miller, the magazine’s editor in chief. “Magazines in general are trying to figure out how we stay relevant,” Ms. Miller said. “We have a clearly defined voice again so when people come here they say ‘O.K. this is a Jet position.’”
The Aug. 12 issue — which reflects the new design — has on the cover Octavia Spencer and Michael B. Jordan, the stars of the film “Fruitvale Station,” which is based on a 2009 incident when a black man was shot and killed by a police officer in an Oakland subway station. The film has gotten particular attention because its release coincided with the verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Ms. Miller said the magazine would also offer more service journalism for its readers. “It’s also about how can you get Beyoncé's look for less,” she said. “When you have her clothes, here are the top five detergents you need to get the stain out of that blouse.”
It will also offer short videos for users’ mobile phones. In the August issue, Ms. Miller added such a video to her editor’s letter.
One thing that won’t change, however, is the magazine’s unusual size — 5⅛ inches by 7⅜ inches. Ms. Rogers said the magazine enlisted the opinions of focus groups around the country for ideas on the makeover. “The one thing we kept hearing was, ‘Don’t change my size,'” she said.