Annual Edition 'Buying Power of
Black America' report breaks down billions in expenditures Black
consumers are responding to tighter economic condition by focusing more of
their spending on items and services that improve their homes and
lifestyle. That's one of the trends revealed in the 15th annual report,
"The Buying Power of Black America," published by Target Market News. The
report analyzes spending for black households in 2008 and finds that
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Barnett shares her plans to bring Ebony magazine to multiple media
Chicago Sun-Times (June 3, 2010) Amy DuBois Barnett, the new editor-in-chief of Ebony
magazine, the Chicago-based voice of the African-American community
struggling with declining revenues, intends to attract readers with a
strong editorial voice on important issues that will ring out on
people's cell phones, iPads and other on-the-go media.
"It's impossible to have a one-dimensional media brand. Extending the
Ebony brand across many media platforms will be crucial in introducing
it to new audiences," while remaining respectful of the print magazine
and its legacy, Barnett said in an exclusive interview with the
She also intends to expand the Ebony brand to new products beyond its
existing "Inspirations" line of greeting cards, but declined to give
And Barnett, 40, who was born in Hyde Park to parents who earned their
PhDs at the University of Chicago, will introduce her trademark humor,
fashion smarts and familiar tone to the iconic voice of black America.
Her parents, who traveled the world on teaching assignments when Barnett
was a child, gave her the distinctive DuBois middle name as a source of
aspiration and inspiration, in honor of famous sociologist, historian
and civil-rights leader W.E.B. DuBois.
"Being smart and dedicated doesn't preclude being stylish and reflecting
a more modern aesthetic," said Barnett, who has already started work at
Ebony and will move to Chicago later this summer from her home in New
Jersey with husband Jeffrey Brown, a sales and marketing executive, and
their son Max Robeson Brown, 4. (The middle-name tradition continues
Barnett credited Ebony's acting editor, Harriette Cole, who is leaving
Johnson Publishing, with overseeing important updates to Ebony,
including introducing last year a "Power 150" list celebrating black
trailblazers in business, science, technology, education and other
But Barnett has her work cut out for her in today's fast-changing media
industry. The Media Industry Newsletter reported in September that
Ebony's advertising pages were down 40 percent from January through
October 2009 compared with 2008, and Web sites are filled with comments
that Ebony has lost touch with today's generation.
Barnett has transformed and reincarnated magazines before. Barnett did
so by leveraging her early career experiences in corporate finance at
Chase Manhattan Bank, as a buyer for Lord & Taylor, and as a cultural
and style-and-fashion writer for first-generation Web sites Total New
York and Fashion Planet. She is a Brown University graduate, studied
writing and literature at University College Dublin in Ireland, and
holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University in New
Barnett won plaudits for being the first African-American woman in the
country to head a major mainstream consumer magazine when she worked as
managing editor at Teen People magazine.
Barnett was credited with leading a redesign that propelled Teen People
to lead the teen category in audience with 14 million readers. Her
redesign of the Web site, TeenPeople.com, was credited as among the
first to bring video into regular Web content.
Barnett said she changed 65 percent of the content of Teen People and
oversaw a "top-to-bottom visual redesign" from 2003 to 2005.
"I was trying to move (Teen People) toward what teens were interested in
and talking about," she said. "I wanted them to feel as though the
magazine was by them, so I incorporated pages that looked like graph
paper, quizzes, polls and other areas in which readers could contribute
Barnett introduced texting "news blasts" and a "fun fact of the day" to
readers' cell phones.
Prior to joining Teen People, Barnett was credited with doubling the
circulation at Honey magazine. Barnett worked as the Editor-In-Chief
At Honey, Barnett's monthly editor's column became the best-read feature
in the magazine, whose readers are 18 to 35-year-old ambitious, stylish
and urban women of color.
"Honey magazine was my baby," Barnett said. "I oversaw a complete
redesign. I was able to combine my understanding and appreciation of the
style industry with my intellectual curiosity about current affairs,
along with my humor and sense of adventure."
Barnett's philosophy is spelled out in her book, "Get Yours: How to Have
Everything You Ever Dreamed Of and More," a sisterly compilation of
advice that was nominated for the NAACP's Image Award for Black Women.
She wrote the book after the 1992 death of her mother, Marguerite Ross
Barnett, the first African-American woman to run a major research
institution -- the University of Houston.
"My mother was very, very inspirational to me," Amy Barnett said. "I did
a complete psychological 180-degree turn (after her death). I decided,
'Only I own this life. I am the only person who can make myself happy.
What am I doing to make myself happy? I stopped doing things that I
couldn't be passionate about, and I haven't done them since."
For the past three years, Barnett has run her own consulting firm,
Polymath, out of her home. In that role, she has helped shape and launch
Jones magazine and JONESMAG.com, a Houston-based shopping and lifestyle
resource for multicultural women, and the Web site, Work Her Way, for
Carolyn Kepcher, known for her role as Donald Trump's executive vice
president and role on "The Apprentice."
Prior to that, Barnett spent six months as deputy editor-in-chief of
Harper's Bazaar, where she worked with Editor-In-Chief Glenda Bailey,
whom Barnett described as "one of my publishing heroes."
One of her key messages is that intelligent journalism doesn't have to
be boring and dressed in pinstripes.
"I freely use humor, and it's hard to deliver a resonant package without
putting it in a stylish, attractive package," she said.
Expect to see Barnett's unique stamp on Ebony, all the while elevating
its status as a voice motivating African-Americans to act on issues of
importance to them.
"Ebony is such an important and resonant brand for my community,"
Barnett said. "It should be the definitive chronicle of African-American