Ebony Magazine is the latest print publication struggling as media continues to turn digital. Now staffers of the veteran outlet’s digital team have reportedly been laid off without receiving their final paycheck.
According to USA Today, members of Ebony magazine’s digital team were fired last month and haven’t received payment. In an email sent to staff on May 30 provided to USA TODAY, the magazine’s human resources department announced that due to a “delay in receiving expected capital,” paychecks from that period would not be sent out.
After the team decided to stop working until they received pay, on June 7, the seven digital team members were fired, said Joshua David, the magazine’s former social media director.
“It’s sad and it’s frustrating and it’s really disheartening to be at a company for almost two years and be treated like this, especially a black company,” David said.
David claims he was last paid over a month ago and is owed $8,000 in back pay and expenses. He has since filed wage claims in Houston and Los Angeles in efforts of receiving his past due funds. The longtime publication that has documented black life for decades has been under serious financial burdens after it was recently revealed they are auctioning off their historic photo archives the week of July 15 at a live auction likely to be held in Chicago.
The collection is valued at more than $46 million and features more than 4 million photographs including shots of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Sammy Davis Jr., Diana Ross, Nat “King” Cole, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Prince and Stevie Wonder, according to Hilco Streambank, the firm running the auction.
Former Ebony writer Jasmine Washington said two days before she was fired she received an email notifying employees that Ebony would be vacating its New York office and actioned them to remove their personal items.
“As you all know, we reduced the Chicago office and went with the footprint of working remotely. We will be taking the same strategy with the New York office,” the email read. “In the interim, we will be looking for another location.”
However, when Washington arrived to collect her belongings, she was terminated.
“I’ve seen it at my grandma’s house, my mom has read it, I’ve read it. So it’s like a generational thing,” Washington said. “To be able to work at such a prestigious place you would think that you would have a really good experience but it hasn’t been that.”
The magazine’s previous owner, Johnson Publishing Co., filed for bankruptcy liquidation back in April, but at the time Ebony said the filing would not affect its operations. For now, all former Ebony employees are looking for work while the outlet prepares to sell off its library of historical images.
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