My self-esteem isn’t as healthy as I’d like it to be but it also isn’t in overdrive. When someone likes something I have written, I appreciate it, but my writing isn’t done in search for likes or comments. When did our very beings become centered on likes, followers, comments and DMs?
I knew the magazine business had changed forever when magazine covers was the conversation not a riveting expose or a poignantly written story. Sure a picture has always been worth a thousand words, but soon will the words matter at all?
Ebony has been noteworthy in pushing their covers from celebrity glamour shots to thematic images focused on engaging readers. These images were obviously meant to illicit controversy, to poke social media and awaken blogger-activists. Under Editor in Chief, Kierna Mayo the magazine once again entered popular culture. She and her staff, notably Jamilah Lemieux showed up on news and entertainment shows to discuss their covers and major stories. From the now infamous shattered Bill Cosby to the Body Brigade cover, the magazine put a strangle hold on Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram timelines. For a while print and social media were interacting in unusual and powerful ways. The hashtags, memes and think pieces were memorable until they stopped abruptly.
Nearly a year ago the magazine was sold to black-owned Clear View Group, a Texas firm, after 71 years in the publishing business. There was a near clean sweep of its editorial staff and Mayo resigned. Since then, the magazine has returned to celebrity glamour or statement covers: Prince, Common, Muhammed Ali, Alicia, Kevin Hart, Nas, Jurnee Smollett and Russell Westbrook. The only imaginative or meaningful cover was the February 2017 cover which depicted a black ‘Rockwell’ family in the Yes We Still Can: How The Black Community Will Save Itself issue.
O Magazine covers are famous as they only feature Oprah Winfrey. The May issue on race features a photo essay that has gone viral. Though not on the cover, the three picture photo essay reverses the gaze with echos of representation: Asian women giddily receiving pedicures, a white girl looking-up at shelves of black dolls and a white maid serving a Spanish woman. These images have migrated to social media going viral.
Though I appreciate social media, nearly ten years ago I questioned the impact it would have on publishing and human behavior. Over the last year magazines have created some of the most provocative covers. They should have increased subscriptions. This has not been the case, unfortunately. The covers may get their fair share of social media likes and even snag a hot topic segment of The View, The Talk or Wendy Williams. But the Magazine business definitely isn’t booming. Subscriptions are down and not likely to ever see the numbers of the past.
Mayo has vision, she understands that tons of likes on a magazine cover isn’t enough but it is necesary. She joined Interactive One—the digital division of Radio One—as senior vp of content and brands. She has now launched Cassius a digital multimedia platform. Like The Undefeated, The Root, Refinery 29, Very Smart Brothers and even xoNecole, Cassius offers a point of view millenials and others want and need. From the press release readers should expect, “bold, controversial covers, never-seen-before interactive graphics, and an in-your-face, unapologetic editorial point of view [at] CASSIUS – a website that pays homage to the spirit of its namesake and the legacy of print magazines with a modern twist.”
We do news and storytelling differently. We provoke, we disrupt, we inform, we uplift.
As a 21st century digital platform dedicated to telling the unvarnished truth, we give daily voice to those much talked about, but rarely talked to. Through original multimedia reporting and sharp commentary, no topic is left unturned—CASSIUS editors fear nothing and no one—we critique and joke, throw shade, and raise hell.
We don’t just cover the culture, we ARE the culture. Love us or leave us alone.We don’t just cover the culture, we ARE the culture.
-Cassius Editor’s Note