Members of the community interested in learning more about recent changes at the Jewish Journal attended a meeting in which Josh Resnek, the publisher of the Jewish Journal, and Todd Feinburg, the editor of the Jewish Journal, spoke candidly about their vision for the paper and focus moving forward. Josh and Todd answered any and all questions or comments the community members had for them at the JCCNS on Sunday, April 3.
Community Member: I’m wondering what you thought of the criticisms the rabbis made in the March 17 issue of the Journal?
Todd Feinburg, Editor: In the next paper, our March 31 issue, we have Rabbi Meyer’s 1,800 word review of the AIPAC conference. That’s the answer to your question. Rabbi Meyer wrote a nice big analysis. We took the rabbis up on their offer. Rabbi Ragozin also wrote a piece and we love the idea of everyone contributing. In other words, we embraced their critique and we are making adjustments to account for their feelings.
CM: My question to you is will you take the attitude that ‘we are going to publish the news as we see it, as we hear it,’ or will you withdraw or exclude things that are controversial?
Josh Resnek, Publisher: There are things that we publish that are going to make people feel uneasy. There are going to be things that we publish that are going to make people talk to one another. I’m not uptight if people are uptight. If everyone is uptight, then maybe I’m uptight. But everyone is not uptight right now. The people who tend to speak out are always the smallest percentage of people, but they’re always the ones who complain most loudly about certain things. We’re going to continue being relevant as a newspaper.
Donald Trump was speaking at the big AIPAC event a couple of weeks ago, the big Jewish event, so that’s why we did the AIPAC cover, we figured 18,000 Jewish people went to Washington, D.C., to listen to Donald Trump, and everyone had something to say about it. If that isn’t in our paper, we haven’t done our work. Everything we do tries to be in sync with the news. One of the reasons we’ve covered the presidential campaign is because arguably we all have our opinions on Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton. We watch as journalists to translate and bring things to you to grumble about, or to be excited about, but certainly just to be informed about. So yes, we will continue informing people. And we will continue paying attention to the news.
CM: How are you determining whom you mail the paper to?
JR: Anyone who wishes to be put on the mailing list should contact Mary Markos with your name and address. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.
CM: Forty years ago, when the paper was founded, the idea for the Journal at that time, and I am a Neanderthal, but it was to be a local paper with local news and that’s what I’m missing, when I see the front page with Donald Trump, Hitler, Bill Clinton, I miss our local news. Now you have dropped the name the North Shore Jewish Journal, but it seems that we’re missing what it was intended to be.
TF: If you take a look at this (latest) paper, I’ve been through our stacks of papers that go back several years; I have not found one that brings as much local news as this does. And this one in particular has more local news than the ones before it because we’re building as we go. But there’s an impression that there was a lot more local news before that I don’t believe is accurate and I think part of that is just that the local news was right there on the front. This is a change of emphasis rather than a change of substance, moving stories off of the front page. But our thinking is that there’s energy in the marketplace of ideas, and we’re trying to tap into that energy. However, when you have Marty (Schneer, executive director of the JCCNS) writing about what’s going on at AIPAC and when you have Rabbis Meyer and Ragozin writing about their experiences, that’s localizing the big national energy.
By the way we haven’t talked about our extensive Calendar section. This is a conduit through which there is more stuff being presented that’s going on locally than ever before. So if you just went through the calendar and talked about all the different organizations and activities that are being exposed, I think you’ll be surprised by the quantity. Go through this when you get home, think local, count the stories and if you have one from three years ago in the attic pull it out and compare it. I feel confident that you won’t find anything approaching this. The type of newspaper that we are, because we mail, we are required to be below 50% in advertising. So we used to be looking about 50% ads and 50% content. We now have it down to 35% ads, so there’s much more content in here than there was before… but what we want to do is to hear those things that are upsetting and fix ones that are unnecessary and explain the ones that we think are a worthy compromise, like the front page. Is it worth it to have more local content inside in order to have a front page that isn’t covering local news, or maybe is local news, but it’s just a photograph?
CM: In the last issue, you wrote a piece on Hillary Clinton, and I’m just curious what you’re thinking when you write something like that.
JR: I’m not a Republican, I’m not a Democrat, I’m a Jew. The thing that disturbs me about Hillary Clinton is that I find her disingenuous. It doesn’t have anything to do with gender or the lack of gender consciousness. Donald Trump is appalling in many ways. But in other ways, he appeals to my love for chaos. He has made people think, whether he knows it or not, how foolish, how duplicitous, how disingenuous, how absurd and self-serving our politicians are, and that’s across the board.
I didn’t suffer in the Holocaust but the Holocaust was 70 years ago and if you break down the barriers like Hillary says, take the walls down in Israel, take your own security systems out of your homes, and then wait to see everybody that comes through the doors without any protection and see what they will do. In terms of Israel in my belief, the place would be ransacked, destroyed, annihilated, so I have a built-in animus against that kind of progressive thinking, but that doesn’t stop me from listening to other people. I just write what I want to write, put my name to it, and if people don’t like it please respond, however you feel. The Journal is open.
CM: How will we get the next generation to get active in the Journal?
JJ: We have recently begun to establish a group of young students that are interested in joining the Journal to serve as a junior/teen board and to write about local news that interests them. Our plans for technological advances such as the new website and eventually the creation of an app will appeal to the younger generation as well.
Community Member: Do you have an E-paper?
JJ: No, we don’t presently have an E-paper. As part of our new website, we will have the typical E-paper, through which readers will be able to scroll from page to page with the click of a mouse.
Our new website will be iPhone and Android accessible, and eventually we will be moving towards creating an app.