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March 22, 1985 - Image 36

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-03-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

36

Friday, March 22, 1985

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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Competition Heats Up
In L.A.'s Lively
Jewish Newspaper War

BY TOM

TUGEND

Special to The Jewish News

Los Angeles — In the frontier
days of the Old West, rival
newspaper publishers used to
settle their editorial differences
with a horsewhip and six-shoot-
er. Nowadays, the weapons have
changed to law suits and invec-
tive, but the spirit of competi-
tion burns as fiercely in the
Jewish newspaper world of Los
Angeles as in days of yore.
Currently, four Jewish week-
lies and one bi-weekly are
published in Los Angeles, com-
pared to three in New York
City with a Jewish population
four times larger.
During the past month, the
rivalry has escalated with a ma-
jor expansion plan announced
by one paper and the publication
of a new entry into the crowded
field.
Slated for a large-scale up-
grading of its editorial, business
and advertising staff is the
Jewish Community Bulletin,
financed by the Jewish Federa-
tion Council, the city's central
Jewish community and fund-
raising organization.
The new entry, called simply
The Jewish. Newspaper, is
published by Yehuda Lev, a vet-
eran broadcaster and journalist.
Among other innovations, he
has engaged the overseas news
service of The Economist of
London, as well as six corres-
pondents in Israel.
Rounding out the field are the
independent weeklies Heritage,
the B'nai B'rith Messenger, and
Israel Today. In addition, a free
monthly publication, L.A.
Jewish Life, is due to appear in.
April, while Almanac Panorama
serves the Russian-speaking.
Jewish population. A Hebrew-.
language weekly, Hamvaker,
has folded after a brief exist-
ence.
The battle lines are drawn
most sharply between the Fed-
eration's Bulletin and the in-
dependent Heritage. Their feud
goes back eight years, when the
Federation expanded its modest
house organ into a semi-monthly
publication, adding general
news stories and commercial ad-
vertisements.
Since then, theBulletin, back-
ed by the Federation's large
financial resources, has again
upped its coverage and ad line-
age and last year went weekly
on a "trial basis." Herb Brin,
the pugnacious publisher of
Heritage, has fought tenacious-
ly against the Bulletin's expan-
sion, claiming that it represents
a misuse of communal charity
funds and violates his previous
agreements with the Federation.
Brin, who has dubbed the
competing paper the "Jewish
Pravda," has taken his battle to
the courts. He has filed a $1.4
million suit against the Federa-
tion, charging breach of con-

Mr. Tug-end, a Los Angeles-based
writer, is our West Coast
correspondent.

tract, unfair competition and
restraint of trade.
Undeterred by external and
some internal opposition, the
Federation's board of directors
voted last month to lend the
Bulletin $663,000 over the next
two years to expand its staff,
broaden its coverage and up-
grade its quality. The paper is to

Four weeklies and a
bi-weekly compete for
a- market a quarter
the size of New
York's.

be governed by a separate
board, although the majority of
its members will be appointed
by the Federation president.
A sizeable minority on the
Federation board opposed the
expansion. Its spokesman, Mil-
ton Gordon, noted that counting
fringe benefits and interest
charges on the loan, the actual
cost of revamping the Bulletin
could come to $1 million.
"The only way to make (the
Bulletin) successful is to ag-
gressively pursue advertisers,"
he said. "I don't see how the in-
dependent papers could sur-
vive," he added, echoing Brin's
charge that he has lost $230,000
in advertising revenue to the
Bulletin over the past year.
"I just feel that the expen-
diture of this kind of money
from charity funds is not a func-
tion of the Federation Council,"
Gordon added.
The Bulletin is mailed free to
the 50,000 contributors to the
Federation's United Jewish
Fund and Israel Emergency Ap-
peal. It claims a total circulation
of the independents.
Federation leaders maintain
that none of the independents
has done a competent job of ser-
ving the Jewish community of
500,000 but deny that they wish
to drive them out of business.
The expanded Bulletin will
"begin a new era in the life of
Jewish Los Angeles," said Fed-
eration president Bruce Hoch-
man, "a time of reaching out, of
binding together the second
largest Jewish community in
the world."
To Brin and his supporters,
the Federation move is more
than a local affair. They see it as
part of a coordinated effort by
Jewish federations throughout
the country to still the often
critical voices of the indepen-
dent Jewish press and cite cur-
rent federation attempts in
Philadelphia, New York, Chica-
go, New Jersey and North Caro-
lina to establish Jewish news
monopolies in their communi-
ties.
The 88-year-old B'nai B'rith
Messenger has set aside past
feuds with Heritage to join the
fight against the Bulletin.
Messenger publisher Rabbi Yale

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