What Does the Future Hold for ESSENCE?

Constance White disclosed recently that she left ESSENCE magazine involuntarily. This admission from White, with no response from ESSENCE has left the future of the magazine in question.

White revealed to RICHARD PRINCE’S JOURNALISMS in “Essence Editor Says She Was Fired” on March 8th that her leaving was involuntary due to repeated disagreements with TIME INC Editor-in-Chief, Martha Nelson. TIME INC first purchased a 49 percent portion of Essence in 2000, and a 51 percent stake in 2005, completing ownership.

Additionally, Time Warner announced on March 6 that TIME INC will be its own private company.

With ESSENCE without an Editor-in-Chief, and its parent company in disarray, what will come next?

A clue to ESSENCE’s future can be found in its numerous firings of Editor-in-Chiefs since 2000, when twenty year Editor-In-Chief, Susan L. Taylor, left the position. According to White since 2000, ESSENCE has had five editors and two acting editors, all African-American women.

Why are these African-American women being fired, repeatedly, since TIME INC bought the company?

ESSENCE has made no response to White’s claims and has not issued an official statement that she was fired. In addition, the magazine featured White as Editor in “A Letter From the Editor” in its March 2013 Issue.

The question of ESSENCE’s future is up in the air. It has shut its readers out about what is happening within the organization. That omission is dishonest and wrong. It falls outside the bounds of appropriate journalistic conduct.

ESSENCE editors have been repeatedly fired, all of whom were African-American women. Yet, its readers are also African-American women. What message is the organization trying to send because the message being received by many readers is that they aren’t good enough to be in charge of or apart of it.

Granted, the President of Essence Communications Inc., Michelle Ebanks, is an African-American Woman, but she is not in charge of creative decisions at the magazine.

In the March 2013 Issue only two of the main articles featured conversations about everyday women, not celebrities. These were “Into The Light” and “The Infertility Cure”; One of which, “The Infertility Cure”, was written by a contributing writer.

The everyday black woman who reads the magazine consistently is being forgotten. She needs to be remembered.

For ESSENCE to regain the trust of its readers, it needs to admit something has gone wrong within its organization, and it needs to have more stories about the relateable women in black communities instead of Hollywood.

African-American women are dealing with important issues like: finances, relationships, diseases, and so much more. Stories about Career Dressing for a career that many do not have seems pointless.

The organization needs to remember who their reader is and honor her.

ESSENCE has been a pillar in the African-American community for decades, and has done amazing things for the race, but leaving the people who have supported it for years is not a good business or moral decision.

Tatiana M. Brown is a native of Washington, D.C. who is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism at Hofstra University. Follow her @TatianaMBrown or check out her website, or contact her at tatiana@forharriet.com

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