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March 27, 1992 - Image 158

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-03-27

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Playing a Different Tune

placency, but its meetings
were marked more by com-
plaining than by action.
The problem for most of
these papers was money,
which denied them adequate
editorial talent and graphic
During the 1950s, Jewish
federations — the Jewish
community's fund raising
arm — began to establish
their own papers, which in-
variably were full of news
about large financial gifts to
Jewish charities. Since the
federations had little in-
clination to criticize them-
selves publicly, their papers
acted as fronts for annual
This did not occur without
controversy, which con-
tinues today. In
Philadelphia, the federation-
owned newspaper, the Expo-
nent, tried to attract readers
and advertisers in Atlantic
City, where an independent
Jewish paper already ex-
isted. In Los Angeles, the
federation-sponsored paper,
the Jewish Journal, is still
engaged in a heated war
with two independent Eng-
lish weeklies and two Heb-
rew weeklies.
The infiltration of federa-
tions into Jewish news-
papers came largely because
independent editors, who
were interested in advanc-
ing an ideological position,
did not focus on building cir-
culation and advertising.
Plus, as the Jewish com-
munity became more con-
cerned with fund raising and
Jewish survival, newspapers
began to rehash the same
issues: money and Israel.



For the remaining in-
dependents, business savvy
is the only means of sur-
vival. American Jewish
communities — who tradi-
tionally live in clustered ur-
ban areas — frequently
make for an almost captive
But Arthur Horwitz, asso-
ciate publisher of The Jew-
ish News, said these corn-
munit le s are slowly
dissipating in a march to
suburbia and assimilation.


How Jewish papers evolved into
their present state says more
about American Jewish life than
about journalism.

of one person who processed
press releases. The paper
ran advertisements on the
front cover.
By introducing attractive
design and interesting ar-
ticles, he slowly raised the
paper to national pro-
"It's all very incremen-
tal," said Mr. Rosenblatt of
the paper's improvement.
In the last 10 years, the
Jewish Times and its sister

The growing Jewish corn-
munities of the South and
West — San Diego, Phoenix,
Atlanta, Tampa, Dallas —
are, in fact, growing in
number only. Many of these
communities are spread all
over a city, thus defeating
any paper's chance of fin-
ding either a core of readers
or advertisers.
It is no wonder, then, that
most papers from these
areas — except those in
Miami, San Francisco and
Los Angeles — are struggl-
ing, not only to balance the

paper, The Jewish News,


books, but also to offer a de-
cent editorial product.
Jewish papers have only
instituted modern layout
techniques and editorial im-
provements in the last 20
years. Much of that move-
ment started at the
Baltimore Jewish Times,
where editor Gary
Rosenblatt and publisher
Charles Buerger tried to
make the paper not only
profitable, but readable.
When Mr. Rosenblatt
arrived at the paper in 1974,
the editorial staff consisted

have done pieces on Jewish
homosexuals, Jews by choice
and Jews and blacks. In
1984, Mr. Rosenblatt was a
finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
for his piece on the Simon
Wiesenthal Center. Recent-
ly, the papers ran an ex-
clusive interview with Peter
Jennings that addressed the
ABC anchorman's alleged
anti-Israel sentiments.
"We should be able to
write about any topic. It's
just how we treat it," said
Mr. Rosenblatt.


Editors and writers ac-
knowledge that their
publications have failings.
But Marc Klein, editor of the
Jewish Bulletin of Northern
California, attributes some
of this to expectations within
the Jewish community.
"I've had people tell me
that they want a nice paper
on Shabbat to read. They tell
me that their Jewish paper
should make them feel good
about being Jewish," he
said. Mr. Klein is also presi-
dent of the American Jewish
Press Association.
In January, a rabbi in the
San Francisco area was
charged with making sexual
advances toward at least one
of his congregants. Even
though both San Francisco
dailies followed the story,
federation officials asked
Mr. Klein not to publicize
the charge. He ran the story
"Some people say we

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