A Jewish Journal Progress Report

By Joshua Resnek

Published May 05, 2016, issue of May 05, 2016.

One year ago the Board of Overseers and the newly hired publisher of the Jewish Journal made the decision to recreate the newspaper and how it is run. The effort was intended to meet the demands of a remarkably uncertain future. At the same time, they set about creating and accepting new standards about how the newspaper is managed, what it says and how it looks with an eye toward making the Journal sustainable, more relevant within a wider geography and to bring in more advertising and donations.

One year later, the Board of Overseers and the newspaper’s staff can point with unpardonable pride to the fact that the Jewish Journal has finally erased long standing debt and has risen up with a new and bold entrepreneurial spirit while at the same time achieving a great deal of excitement among our largely Jewish audience of readers, advertisers and contributors. Sales are up dramatically.

With the return of Betsy Breitborde to the sales department there is a new energy which is evident in the last two editions. Breitborde and Director of Marketing Lois Kaplan make an extraordinary team with great talent. Their efforts reveal this unequivocally.

The last two editions at 40 pages and 48 pages respectively were the largest in the past 25 years. The gross dollars brought in with these two giant editions was more than any two editions ever in the 40 year history of the newspaper.

All this when the newspaper business is busy dying!

The editorial content of the newspaper has expanded dramatically.

Under the creative editorship of Todd Feinburg, the Journal has expanded its coverage of local and international news, major Jewish events and happenings while at the same time creating a new calendar section that is the largest, liveliest and most informative, bar none, among Jewish publications in New England. There is also now an expansive listings section of synagogues and events compiled by Mary Markos, who joined us as assistant editor two months ago.

The art work of our graphic design team, Andrew Fleischer and Yulia Zhorov, creates powerful imagery and messaging broadcasting our news with brilliant front pages and eye catching design rich with color, verve and message.

We get the impression that the vast majority of readers are pleased with the changes, especially the recent editions which seem to have hit just the right tone. This is evident with the gains in advertising and renewed reader interest, which cannot be achieved if the paper is not doing the right thing.

All of this is a work in progress. The gains that have been accomplished have not come without long hours of thoughtful effort. Most of our moves during the past year have succeeded magnificently. Some have caused those wishing for a return to yesterday the kind of consternation that results from a feeling of losing their Journal – of what used to be. We are thankful for the support of advertisers, new and old, as well as the flow of contributions and feedback from our readership.

We recently have hit new highs in news reportage with a front-page piece by three-time Pulitzer Prize winning writer Stephen Kurkjian who wrote about the Armenian Genocide. Kurkjian, the founder of the Globe Spotlite Team, often worked with Jewish Journal Publisher Josh Resnek on investigative reports appearing in the Boston Globe during the 1980’s and the 1990’s. The Armenian Genocide piece generated worldwide interest on the net.

We were able to provide unique coverage of the AIPAC convention in Washington thanks to the contributions of Rabbi David Meyer and Michael Ragovin in our Trump edition. Their willingness to provide Journal readers the benefit of their perspectives marked a new moment in our relationship with our rabbis.

Our recent edition focusing on anti-Semitic events in Newton’s public schools also played an important role, we believe, in highlighting shifting priorities from local leaders regarding protecting the rights, and safety, of Jews. This edition highlights the strong response shown by Jewish leaders on the North Shore regarding similar events in Swampscott while highlighting the differences between how Newton and Swampscott Jews responded.

Our Passover edition with our Moses cover was perhaps the most impressive Jewish Journal to date – rich with advertising, 24 pages of community Greetings, and a full array of news and features. We remain open to all opinions – it is this diversity, after all, that we see as our greatest strength and achievement.

These positive developments are the achievements of the Board of Overseers and the publisher and editor and the devoted staff and contributors to the Jewish Journal.

There have been sometimes heated battles among us. Feelings have been hurt now and then – more then than now. But we all understand that a house divided cannot stand.

We are working together in sync for the Jewish Journal to become a powerful beacon of light for the Jewish community in Massachusetts and for Jews everywhere.

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