Mid-Atlantic Media, publisher of Washington Jewish Week and Baltimore Jewish Times recently announced a new affiliation with the Jewish Exponent, the 128-year-old community newspaper of the Philadelphia-area Jewish community.
The Philadelphia-area news staple is the second-oldest continuously published Jewish newspaper in the United States with a presence in 24,000 households each week. Under the new partnership, announced June 3, Mid-Atlantic Media will take over the production and editorial responsibilities of the paper.
All reporting will remain local, as it has throughout the paper’s storied history. Ownership of the paper will remain with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, with Steven Rosenberg as the general manager and publisher’s representative.
Financial considerations prompted the deal, according to Rosenberg. The paper reportedly lost $300,000 annually and was able to continue publishing only through the support of the federation.
“Here at the Jewish Federation we’re exceedingly concerned with having a financially viable paper. We took action that would still allow us to own a local paper,” said Naomi L. Adler, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. She expressed gratitude to the volunteers and staff that made sure the “best outcome [was] established with the new partnership.”
Added Rosenberg, “As stewards of our Jewish community, it is our responsibility to ensure the future viability of the Exponent, and enhance the Exponent’s increasingly popular digital platform including JewishExponent.com.”
Though production will go through Mid-Atlantic Media’s Baltimore office, Rosenberg stressed that editorial, circulation, marketing, accounting and sales will remain in Philadelphia. There will be no gap in coverage or newspaper delivery
during the transition.
“Our reporters are still going to be living and working in the 19103 zip code,” said Rosenberg. “Our office is staying the same; we’re not going anywhere.”
Pittsburgh’s Jewish newspaper, The Jewish Chronicle, has a similar relationship with the Maryland-based media company, in what the Chronicle’s CEO and Publisher Jim Busis characterized as a “strategic partnership.”
“When we were looking to revamp The Jewish Chronicle and we did our strategic project, we looked very closely at the larger landscape nationally, internationally, Jewish, secular,” said Busis. “[We] realized that … there was a real need for these papers in the Jewish community, but it was a hard time economically, so it was best if we could band together and pool resources.”
To position the Jewish Exponent for future success, Rosenberg said, 15 of 27 positions were eliminated. Affected staffers were given severance packages and their names were made available to Mid-Atlantic Media for potential rehire. Greg Salisbury, who has been with the Jewish Exponent since 1999 writing for the Inside magazine and weekly paper, has been named the new managing editor.
Joshua Runyan, editorial director for Mid-Atlantic Media, has been named editor-in-chief. Runyan, who spent four years as a reporter and news editor at the Jewish Exponent, said, “This is an incredible opportunity for the Jewish Exponent and for Mid-Atlantic Media. The Exponent will emerge a better publication with more writers covering the vibrant community that calls the Greater Philadelphia area home.
“At Mid-Atlantic Media, we believe in building and strengthening Jewish community, and ensuring a home for our hometown Jewish publications is a key part of realizing that vision,” he added.
“Local, niche community news is still very important, but the news media industry faces challenges. News media must
adjust to the changing times,” said Craig Burke, CEO of Mid-Atlantic Media.
“At Mid-Atlantic Media, we offer solutions that provide smart efficiencies so that companies such as Jewish Exponent and The Jewish Chronicle can continue executing their mission without so much financial pressure. What makes this relationship so special is that we both share the mission of strengthening Jewish community. We’re going to make sure the paper looks and reads better than ever.”