Journalist Q&A: Mira Lowe, EIC, 'Jet'

Mira Lowe was named editor-in-chief of 'Jet' magazine in April 2009. In February, the magazine underwent a significant redesign, including altering its logo, new fonts, more color, and more photography.

Name: Mira Lowe
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Mira Lowe was named editor-in-chief of Jet magazine in April 2009. In February, the magazine underwent a significant redesign, including altering its logo, new fonts, more color, and more photography. The publishing schedule retains its weekly print digest but also adds a special double-issue every month. Lowe spoke to Aarti Shah about the black community's media preferences and how the redesign is impacting its content.

PRWeek: As the editor-in-chief, what is your vision for Jet?

Mira Lowe: I think my vision is for it to continue to be a go-to source of news and entertainment for the black community. We have a strong tie to the community, based on our relationship, since we launched in 1951. We want to continue that connection with the community that, quite frankly, other magazines do not have. So my vision is to continue that legacy, but also build on it. With the new redesign, our audience and readers will see features that really speak to their interests.

PRWeek: You continue to publish weekly, but also have a double-issue every month. What was the thinking behind doing this?

Lowe: I obviously wanted to keep the connection going with our community, so I think the weekly frequency is important for us. But we also wanted to be able to use our double-issues to do something really special that we might not be able to do in the weekly. So, with the double, we are planning to produce content that is focused either around a particular theme that gives it [something different] from what we do weekly.  And also, I wanted to use the double issue as a place where we could really showcase photojournalism moving forward.

PRWeek: What's most relevant to your readers right now? Have their tastes changed recently?

Lowe: I think our audience hungers for the latest. They want to be in the know and I think that's where Jet is able to fill that need in a quick and comprehensive way. I would say in the last couple of years, particularly with President Obama being in the White House, that people are very, very engaged and interested in politics. And so we will continue to cover politics as it is relevant to the black community. Right now we have [a column] called Inside Washington that takes a look at all that is happening in-and-around the DC area as it relates to the White House and other things.

PRWeek: What are the main trends or issues you are following within the black community?

Lowe: When it comes to news, there are some key things that the community does care about: health, education, and money issues. So with the redesign, we streamed where we want to put our energy and to find the important areas like news, entertainment, [and] lifestyle, which encompasses some of those areas where people have interests like health, style. Money is a big thing we want to focus on, whether entrepreneurship or even just how to make it in these tough economic times. And sports is big interest of our community, as well. But because we're weekly, we don't really cover sports play-by-play but more behind-the-scenes and profiles of some of those athletes and others who might be doing things of interest to our audience.   

PRWeek: Your readership base is the black community, but within this base how would you describe your reader profile?

Lowe: It's multigenerational. We hear people in their 20s and 30s say they remember when their mothers and grandmothers had [the magazine] and they still pick it up. However, I think we want to continue to broaden our audience by continuing to appeal across the generational level. So for instance, when we kicked off the redesign, we intentionally wanted to go with someone who was younger, in the now, and that was Trey Songz. We knew he could appeal to younger readers and help the older audience – or the loyal audience – to know who this young man is. So we're trying to bridge the gap across the generations.

PRWeek: What's the male-to-female breakdown? And are you doing anything to build your male readership?

Lowe: I would say we're 60-40 female…I think the focus on sports is definitely helping. And eventually, as we continue to develop our content, I'd love to be able include more technology, which I think has an appeal across genders. But I think men, in particular, are interested in what's new from the technological standpoint. And maybe dedicating the content in one of our double-issues to men.

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