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DESIREE’S NEW GIG: Former White House Social Secretary Desirée Rogers has begun her post as chief executive officer of Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Co., home to Ebony and Jet, with one thing in mind: sticking to the fundamentals. “We are not yet on the iPad and everyone wants to know the glitzy and sexy things like that, but we need to get back to the level of where we were in the heyday,” Rogers told WWD. She noted that Ebony has a new editor in chief — Amy DuBois Barnett — and a new look that will start to unfold in the pages of the September issue, which probably not by coincidence has Rogers’ former boss, President Obama, on the cover, along with an exclusive interview in the White House. Rogers has served as a consultant to the magazine since June, so there’s no doubt she helped pull the strings to land her pal the Prez.
As for her road to Johnson Publishing, Rogers said she’s known chairman and now former ceo Linda Johnson Rice for 25 years and recently a very “natural and organic” conversation happened about Rogers taking over the ceo post. But if she thought the waters of a ceo suite back in her native Chicago would be calmer after the cutthroat Washington scene, she should think again: Rogers has her work cut out for her at Johnson Publishing as, year to date, Jet’s ad pages are down about 30 percent to 264 and, at Ebony, ad pages are down 12 percent, to 321, according to Media Industry Newsletter. Meanwhile, Rogers stayed mum on whether her new role will mean a return trip to New York Fashion Week: “Maybe, we’ll see.” — A.W.