Another Major Shakeup Hits Ebony, Jet
Kyra Kyles departs amid signs of continued financial difficulties at the 71-year-old title.
Ebony has lost its fourth editor-in-chief in as many years.
Kyra Kyles — who succeeded Kierna Mayo in the role when the Ebony and sister title Jet were sold to private equity, last June — has stepped down, according to multiple statements obtained by media columnist Richard Prince, as well as Kyles' Twitter bio.
Prince confirmed Kyles' departure with Ebony Media CEO Linda Johnson Rice, who wrote in an email, "Ebony Media continues to assess all areas of the business with a overall effort to streamline our operations and workforce to meet the demands of an increasingly fragmented media and digital landscape."
Evidently, that means further cuts to the masthead, about which the affected editors were notified on Thursday.
The news comes just a week after Ebony's new owners, Clear View Group, weathered criticism from a growing contingent of freelance contributors who claim waiting up to a year to be compensated for contributions to the magazine. In a bizarre text message published by The Root, Clear View vice chairman Willard Jackson purportedly denied the claims.
But instability at Ebony stems back to before Clear View acquired the title from Johnson Publishing, which owned it for its first 70 years. After top editor Amy DuBois Barnett — who was widely credited with revamping the title and growing its readership in a difficult market landscape — left in April 2014 to help launch ESPN's The Undefeated, Johnson Publishing tapped Jet editor-in-chief Mitzi Miller as her successor. Miller lasted less than a year before stepping down the following February, a month after Johnson put Ebony's historic photo archives, valued at $40 million, up for sale in an effort to raise some cash.
More recently, Cheryl McKissack, who was named CEO of the newly formed Ebony Media Holdings following the Clear View acquisition last summer, exited the company in March, putting Johnson Rice back in charge.
“I have enjoyed an exhilarating ride, and I am grateful for the opportunities in which I leveraged my digital, print, and broadcasting skills for the benefit of our audiences across platforms," added Kyles in a statement to Prince.
► Update: The Tribune reported Friday evening that "about ten" of the magazine's 35 staffers have been laid off in addition to Kyles, and that Ebony's operations will be transferred to Los Angeles after seven decades in Chicago.