Working in the media is attractive to many. Although this digital and social age has leveled the playing field and lowered barriers to entry into the media, most people lack a clear understanding of what it takes to remain powerful and a leader in the media. industry.
Michele thornton ghee, CEO of iconic brands Ebony & Jet Magazine, is an award-winning industry veteran with over 25 years of experience shaping culture and transforming brands. Most notably, she was credited with creating and leading the first and only network for black women; BETHer at BET Networks – and for his contributions to WME, CNN, A&E, The History Channel.
As a leader, Ghee believes self-awareness is the number one attribute of leadership. “If you don’t have a basic understanding of who you are, it’s hard to give to others.”
Her accolades aside, Ghee is an outspoken and transparent leader who thinks it pays to be a servant leader. Which often means being prepared to be transparent with others, regardless of your level of achievement.
One of the things she talks about openly and passionately is the ability to hold onto the faith during times of uncertainty. In March, at the start of the pandemic, Ghee saw her old role eliminated and she contracted COVID-19. Nonetheless, she persisted.
“I am a woman who prays. In March, I must have wondered where my legacy was going, ”Ghee said. “I reconnected to my prayer life. And God said to me, ‘If you’re patient and worry about nothing, I’m going to deliver something amazing to you.’ “
And that’s exactly what she did. For the remainder of 2020, Ghee centered himself and used his time wisely. “It took a year. One year! And, I believed in myself and stayed true. I read, created stuff, and took a DNI course. I did not remain seated. I continued. But I wasn’t worried about the rest, ”Ghee said.
In January, Ghee was named CEO of Ebony & Jet after the long-awaited resurgence of the 75-year-old brand.
His faith coupled with his experience and a solid network made room for him. Ghee’s advice to others is:
- Believe in yourself.
- Keep doing the work.
- Be informed and walk in self-awareness.
- Don’t doubt yourself.
- Know that there is a bigger plan for you.
Believe even bigger
With the excitement of the announcement, many believe it was right on time. Especially so much Black property legacy publications compete for business 90% of the media industry being controlled by 6 big companies and black culture becoming more mainstream.
“My goal and my vision is to make news and information a way of life,” Ghee said. “We have to go somewhere and get the truth, get the stories about business, relationships, money and health. And, what is going on in the world of politics in an era of COVID-19. “
She went on to share that Ebony and Jet will continue its legacy as a place where authentic stories are told. To attract new audiences and engage with brand loyalists, the company will focus on meeting the individual and collective needs of the Jet and Ebony brands online.
With a dynamic team, Ghee plans to disseminate news and information through a variety of online mediums while paying homage to the print publications that were once on the stands and are now archived and officially housed at the African-American Museum of Natural History. Through the company’s relationship with the museum, their goal is to reuse historical content in ways that empower people. Online publications are expected to be officially relaunched in June 2021.
“Our slogan is ‘History in the Making’. No, the history of blacks making history. Because we already know what we are doing today, the world will do it tomorrow. We see this and we want to own it, ”Ghee said.
Make history and move on
Being steeped in strategy is essential for Ghee. And with both brands steeped in culture, she and her team plan to pick up where they left off.
“We know now is the time. There is so much content to recreate, reimagine and revive on our digital properties. So that’s the first thing we’re going to do, ”Ghee said.
Having a stake in the tech space with app and strategic partnerships with organizations like the National Association of Black Journalists and the US Black Chamber of Commerce will also be essential in their activities.
Faithful to the history of the company and the heritage of John H. Johnson, brands will amplify the voices of black America. “Our pages will not be filled with celebrities. This is not what we do, ”Ghee assured. “There are so many people contributing and so many young journalists that people have never heard of what we want to shine. We want people to know the emergence, the oblivion and the invisible. It’s at the heart of who I am.
With a quarter of a century of experience, every moment leading up to it has prepared Ghee for his CEO status. Good, bad and indifferent.
“There have been so many lessons that I have learned walking the halls of Corporate America while being invisible. And the beauty of being invisible (painful as it can be) is that people don’t think you’re paying attention because they can’t see you, ”Ghee said. “I listened, and I watched, I paid attention, and I took it all. And then I got started as if I wanted to work in this company.
Now Ghee is ready to lead in a way she hasn’t had before.
“When we started having this conversation [about her leading Ebony and Jet] I said, “I want to start a business that I was never allowed to work for because people weren’t treating me for what I earned. I also said that we are going to build the business where people can come everyday and be themselves, be genuine and be black journalists who can speak out.
“All of my experiences as an entrepreneur, author, speaker and board member allowed me to gain leadership experience despite companies that did not allow me to sit at the table. And my journey with companies that have given me a certain visibility has made me the woman I am today. It was both painful and good. In the midst of that, I think I’m really walking in my goal now, ”Ghee said.