Former Editor of Ebony Magazine Releases Memoir

Backed by E-Mails, Memos and Grainy ‘Surveillance’ Photos--Editor Zondra Hughes Recounts the Outrageous Office Politics That Ultimately Derailed Ebony, the No. 1 Magazine in Black America.

Online PR News – 10-January-2010 – – CHICAGO, Jan. 10–What in the world happened to Ebony magazine? Mere months after the historic Pres. Barack Obama issue fueled the most newsstand sales ever in its 65-year history, Newsweek reported that Ebony magazine, the No. 1 magazine in Black America, was up for sale.

The transitioning media climate is only partially to blame, argues former Ebony Associate Editor Zondra Hughes in the memoir, LIVING THE EBONY LIFE: E-MAILS FROM THE PLANTATION, (, now on sale. “New media didn’t derail Ebony magazine,” Zondra says, “bad management did.”

In EBONY LIFE, the author provides the context for the magazine’s recent woes with a shocking paper trail that exposes the work conditions under a few rogue overseers, collectively referred to as ‘The Man.’

“The Man was ruthless,” Zondra explains. “Associate Editors were never promoted because The Man set us up to fail with sabotaged assignments and botched deadlines. The Man was at war with his junior staff and Ebony’s editorial content was the collateral damage.”

bad management did.

Delivered in a humorously punchy narrative, EBONY LIFE also includes celebrity encounters, the rivalry between Ebony and Jet editors, and a floor-by-floor tour of the elaborately decorated building.


Zondra served seven years (1999-2006) in the Ebony editorial department, widely regarded as ‘The Plantation’ by company insiders due to the quirky company policies such as assigned lunchroom seating.

In 2004, Zondra’s redesign of the Beauty & Style section led to marked increased readership and a 44% increase in beauty advertising revenue; but the achievements also drew the ire of the managers.

In 2006, The Man crossed the line and Zondra responded with a 40-page memo that documented the mismanagement. Zondra refused the company’s severance offer, which included a clause not to pursue legal action, and was fired.

The memo is widely believed to have sparked the complete overhaul of Ebony’s editorial staff.

Zondra’s whistle-blowing memo established a precedent as the first Ebony Associate Editor to publicly address the practice of workplace bullying at the company.

Says Zondra, “In many cases, the woman was the head of her household, and the bully managers were destroying entire families. I had to take a stand, not just for the worker bees on The Plantation, but for women everywhere who are bullied at work, all in the name of earning a living. If we remain silent about workplace bullying, it won’t stop.”

LIVING THE EBONY LIFE: E-MAILS FROM THE PLANTATION, (M.O.O.D. Lounge Books, 2009). ISBN: 978-0-9791666-1-7; trade paperback, 270 pages. For more information, please go to:

Zondra Hughes made her literary debut on the outrageous and over-the-top Wendy Williams smash hit, Ritz Harper Goes to Hollywood! (Pocket Books/Karen Hunter Publishing). She is the editor of N’Digo, and a featured blogger for The Huffington Post and ChicagoNow. The author resides in Chicago.

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