Vibe closes magazine and website

NEW YORK - American music and entertainment magazine Vibe, set-up by record producer Quincy Jones, is ceasing publication in print and on the web after 16 years as "the black version of Rolling Stone" although its founder is battling to keep it alive online.

Vibe staff were informed yesterday by CEO Steve Aaron that the magazine would be closing down immediately, blaming the collapse of the capital markets and decline in print ad revenue.

Most of the company's 50 employees are expected to lose their jobs.

The magazine indicated it was in financial trouble in early February when it cut its paid circulation by 25% to about 800,000, reduced its frequency to 10 issues a year and merged its digital and print editorial operations.

The July issue will be Vibe's last, and features rapper Eminem on the cover. Staff were reportedly working on a large tribute to Michael Jackson when they were informed of the news.

The company said it had struggled with the transition from print to digital, and despite making "significant improvement" in its digital offering, it was "not at the accelerated pace" required to offset the recession.

Its closure follows similar glossy casualties in the US, including Blender, which closed its doors in March.

However, Quincy Jones, who sold Vibe to Wicks Group in 2006, said he was in the process of buying the magazine back to keep it alive online.

Jones told the website EbonyJet: "Print and all that stuff is over, we gotta remember that. The Chicago Tribune, The Seattle Post Intelligencer. The Miami Herald. They're over the same way as the record business. We have got to get into this century."

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