Today marks another milestone for the Jewish Journal. Dedicated readers of this publication will notice the first significant design change in the paper’s 45-year history. Open up the Journal, and you’ll find a crisply designed magazine with a fresh look, more color, larger photos, and an index of categories at the top of the pages that make the paper easier to read. The new design was created by Dan Zedek, who formerly served as creative director of The Boston Globe.
Just 32 months ago, when COVID-19 changed our world, the health emergency had a deep impact on the Journal’s revenue. In March, 2020, our advertising – which provides more than half of the Journal’s revenue – plunged 80 percent. There was talk of stopping our print run of 10,000 subscribers – all mailed at no cost to our subscribers – and publishing online only. It’s a near-miracle that nearly three years later, the Journal has survived the economic downturn from COVID, continues to print strong journalism edition after edition, and completed a top-to-bottom redesign of our paper, as well as our website.
In those dark days, we turned to you – our readers – and explained our plight. In truth, it served as a referendum about whether or not the community still felt the need for this paper. That question was answered within a month when our readers responded generously and helped fill our shortfall by collectively donating $100,000. This enabled us to keep the presses running. Since the summer of 2020, we’ve received two federal PPP loans – both of which were forgiven – and grants from local temples and a national Jewish charity. In 2021, philanthropists Arthur Epstein and Bryna Litchman presented a challenge grant to the community: they would donate $100,000 to the Journal if our readers contributed $200,000. In another vote of confidence, the community responded and donated more than $300,000.
We promised our readers that we would boost our journalism with the new influx of funding. We added David Shribman, a North Shore native who has won Pulitzer Prizes with the Boston Globe and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Linda Matchan, who was a Boston Globe staff reporter for 36 years, is now our associate editor. While we have an editorial staff of just two, we have a group of loyal freelancers who are eager to serve the community by providing strong reporting.
Much has changed since this paper was created 45 years ago to connect the Jewish community of the North Shore. Demographics have created a whole new community with different priorities. Interfaith couples now comprise about 75 percent of all marriages. Once shunned in tony hamlets, Jews can now live almost anywhere they want in the state. But affiliation is down – just one in three Jews now belong to a Jewish organization, and some temples and Jewish charities are struggling to survive.
That’s why we are committed – more than ever – to boosting our journalism, and keeping our paper free of charge in order to link the thousands of unaffiliated Jews and interfaith families who subscribe to the Journal. With the shuttering of The Jewish Advocate two years ago, the Journal is now the largest Jewish paper in New England. We’re not out of the woods yet – our advertising revenue only provides 60 percent of our revenue. The rest comes from grants, and from voluntary $72 subscriptions from our readers. In all, we need to raise about $250,000 each year to keep printing.
As we move toward Thanksgiving, we are deeply grateful for your interest and support. We hope you enjoy our new design. We believe our best journalism is yet to come. Θ