Vibe’s demise premature

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On August 23, Vibe.com quietly relaunched as a blog. A banner ad in the top right corner declares “Prepare For The Re-Launch: November 2009.”

The beta premiere of Vibe.com followed news that InterMedia Partners, a private fund, teamed with the publishers of Uptown magazine to purchase Vibe on August 11. The new owners plan to create a “Vibe Lifestyle Network” that includes the website and a quarterly magazine that debuts in November.

Last June, Vibe magazine hastily ceased operations, leaving many freelancers (like myself) unpaid and generating countless epitaphs in the media and across the web. Quincy Jones, who helped found the magazine back in 1992, claimed he would try to buy the property from its hapless owners, the Wicks Media Group, and try to relaunch it.

Instead, the newly formed Vibe Lifestyle Network announced that Jermaine Hall, an editor and journalist with stints at the Benzino-era Source as well as King magazine, will be the new editor-in-chief. It appears that all of the old Vibe staff was let go, though that may change before the magazine returns to newsstands. Danyel Smith, Vibe’s former EIC, has since moved on to TheRoot.com.

At the moment, the blog offers a mix of syndicated content from partners such as BallerStatus.com (?) and original posts. It has between 10-20 posts a day, which far exceeds the paltry handful of items the old Vibe.com would generate. (Among its “top 25 stories” is news that P. Diddy has moved from Warner/Atlantic to Interscope.) There’s little evidence that the “new” Vibe will abandon the conservative editorial approach of its predecessor, but that may change before the magazine and website officially relaunches.

“We’re going to broaden the scope of the magazine — inject some Hollywood coverage, expand the music scope, cover sports — really make a conscious effort to broaden the bin and not have it be so music-slash–hip-hop specific,” said Hall in an interview with Mediaite.com shortly after his role in the new Vibe became public. “It’s anchored by the music, but there’s so many different tentacles to urban culture and urban lifestyle so we want to make sure that we’re covering all of that for the reader.”

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