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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 11, 2005 / 6 Av, 5765

‘Indispensable’ lessons of a black publishing pioneer

By Clarence Page


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I don't remember everything that John H. Johnson, the pioneer black publisher, said when he was honored by the National Association of Black Journalists back in 1987. But I don't think I will never forget his three words of advice:

"Make yourself indispensable."

It's hard to find three better words that sum up the successful business philosophy of John Harold Johnson, who died Monday (Aug. 8) at age 87.

To black Americans of my generation, Johnson's publications — Ebony, Jet and the late Negro Digest — were indispensable reading matter, offering a brighter and more prosperous vision of black America than most of the mainstream, also known as "white-owned," media provided.

To advertisers, Johnson's pioneering publications broke through the myth that the black consumer market was not worth targeting through black-owned media. Today newsstands are filled with magazines niche-marketed to blacks or Hispanics, but that really began with Johnson back in the 1940s.

And to journalists, particularly us black journalists, Johnson's publications provided employment, a training ground and a model for how people of color might be covered in a more complete fashion than simply through crime, sports or show business stories.

His 1989 autobiography, "Succeeding Against the Odds" (Warner Books, Inc.), reads almost like a business-school series of case studies in how to solve whatever problems life throws up at you.


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When Arkansas refused to educate black children in his area past the eighth grade, Johnson's mother, Gertrude Johnson Williams, a cook and domestic worker, saved for two years to move her family to Chicago in the 1930s.

Young Johnnie was working days at a black-owned life insurance company and studying at night at Northwestern University when he started up Negro Digest in 1942 with $500 that his mother raised by borrowing against the family furniture.

When its circulation stalled at 50,000, a few months later, Johnson persisted in requesting a guest column from Eleanor Roosevelt until she agreed, immediately boosting circulation to 100,000.

In 1945, Johnson launched Ebony, a picture-oriented magazine. Its initial press run of 25,000 copies was completely sold out. Pocket-sized Jet magazine began in 1951. Jet helped launch the modern civil rights movement in 1955 when it published open-casket funeral photos of the mangled body of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Chicagoan who was savagely murdered while visiting relatives in Mississippi.

Despite its annual special editions focusing thoughtfully on major black political and economic issues, we black journalists, among others, often ridiculed the sugarcoated emphasis that Ebony and Jet put on the upwardly-ambitious black middle class. Yet we also understood Johnson's reluctance to put out negative news about black life, since there was so much of that in the mainstream media.

The bourgeois flavor of Johnson's publications was a minor criticism in the life of a man who overcame tremendous hardships to fill an important vacuum in black life and become one of America's wealthiest businessmen.

With that in mind, his "make yourself indispensable" speech had special resonance. Speaking to an audience of predominately young and aspiring print and broadcast journalists, Johnson offered us the example of Matthew Henson, the black man who helped Adm. Robert Peary reach the North Pole in 1909.

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Henson was not hired under any affirmative action plan or out of the goodness of Peary's heart, Johnson pointed out. Henson was hired because he had taken the time to learn the language of the Inuit people, who were indispensable guides on the journey.

What Johnson did not mention was the equally fascinating story of how he gave an autographed copy of Henson's autobiography to Zenith Electronics Corporation CEO Eugene McDonald, after hearing that McDonald was a fan of arctic explorers. McDonald was impressed enough by the gift and by a four-page Ebony feature on Henson that Zenith became Ebony's first major corporate advertiser in the 1950s and helped persuade other major corporate advertisers to follow, a major breakthrough at the time for black-oriented media. Two decades later, Johnson was elected to Zenith's board of directors.

Johnson's career was full of stories like that. His life presents case studies in leadership, which is, above all, the art of problem solving. While others might fret, moan or whine, he was a get-it-done kind of guy.

He understood that no one, black or otherwise, would patronize your business purely out of racial loyalty. Consumers in a free market want value, service and quality. He set a high standard for all three. Despite the changing times that his publications helped bring about, Johnson found ways to stay indispensable. So should we all.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on Clarence Page's column by clicking here.

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