jet usher

*For Jet Magazine, a 63-year-old fixture in the African American community, it’s all over as far as being a print vehicle.

On Wednesday, the magazine’s owner, Johnson Publishing announced Jet, which has a circulation of more than 700,000, will transition to a digital-only format in June.

“The print version is going away, but the franchise is not going away,” said Desiree Rogers, CEO of Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Company.

The new app, which will be available for tablets and all mobile devices, will be published weekly, and will update breaking news daily. It will include video interviews, 3-D charts and archival photos, in addition the content available in the print edition.

You may not have noticed it, but the signs of trouble for the he third-largest circulation magazine in the African-American market have been around for a while. Jet reduced publication frequency from weekly to roughly every three weeks in recent years. Last summer, Jet went through a major redesign, with more service-oriented stories, bigger photos, more graphics and a new website.

Unfortunately, all those changes couldn’t prtevent the transition to digital, according to Rogers.

“We were not able to deliver and to print a weekly magazine that was cost-effective,” Rogers said. “Over the past few years we tried to figure out how do we get back to the Jet that everyone had growing up, where they got information more readily. We made the decision that this was a great opportunity to move Jet to a digital platform.”

Published 20 times a year, Jet has a total average circulation of 720,000, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

Subscribers pay $20 per year for the print edition and the current digital version. Those subscribers will receive instructions on how to get the new app and continue receiving Jet. Print subscribers that don’t choose to go with the digital Jet, will have the option to convert their subscriptions to sister publication, Ebony, according to Rogers.

There are about 10,000 digital-only subscribers to Jet, Rogers said. Transitioning Jet’s die-hard print readers to digital may be no easy task.

“We’ve got to walk our readers through this, and we’ve got to mourn that it’s not in the same format,” Rogers said. “But at the same time, once they see it, once they get familiar with it, they’re going to love it.”

Get MORE of this story at the Chicago Tribune.