Seeking a place in the sun: Sepia magazine's endeavor for quality journalism and place in the negro market, 1951-1982

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University of Alabama Libraries

Sepia magazine began in Fort Worth, Texas in 1947 as Negro Achievements, a magazine highlighting African American success articles and featuring reader-submitted true confessions stories. In 1951, two years after the death of its black founder, Horace J. Blackwell, Sepia found new leadership in white business mogul, George Levitan. With Levitan's guidance, the magazine became the longest standing competitor to the more successful African American magazine, Ebony. This dissertation chronicles the history of Sepia magazine by discussing its editorial philosophy, comparing its editorial content to that featured in Ebony, and highlighting factors that potentially led to its failure. Previous studies provide information on Sepia's portrayal of African American women, Viet Nam coverage, and overall history. However, all prior research excludes the examination of the magazine's final years, failing to assess the probable reasons for its demise. The current study utilizes magazine content, employee manuscripts, interoffice communication, and news articles in its investigation of the magazine's life and death throughout the years of its existence, 1951-1982. This dissertation enhances magazine research in a variety of ways. Aside from being only the fourth study of Sepia, the use of Ebony as a point of comparison provides a backdrop against which thorough analysis of the magazine's content can take place. The study's assessment of the magazine's poor business practices also reiterates the importance of a comprehensive business plan for any magazine.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Journalism, Black history, History