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800 readers subscribed, while 400
to 500 copies were faithfully
stacked in apartment buildings,
Jewish agencies and Russian
stores every month.
Further cutbacks occurred af-
ter the Jewish Community Cen-
ter stopped printing the
newspaper. Today, Fonarik is typ-
ically 12 pages, but publishes only
1,000 copies each month, 50 of
which are sent to subscribers at
$6 per year. A Northville compa-
ny prints it.
The paper suffers not just from
a lack of funds, but from shifting
demographics as well. Fonarik al-
ways had a core audience of peo-
ple over 55 who had difficulty
learning a new language, but as
the Russian community has ma-
tured and spread out into the
northwestern suburbs, reader-
ship has dwindled.
"Most people under 50 got jobs
in their own fields after starting
out selling carpet. Their goal was
to eventually move to West
Bloomfield, and a great many did.
"They were interested in the
paper for the first few years, but
after they got Americanized, they
didn't need it and switched to
American newspapers," Dr.
Berton said. Russians who move
generally don't leave behind for-
warding addresses, so retaining
them as readers is difficult, if not
The entrance in the market of
a Chicago-based, Russian-lan-
guage advertising journal called
Reklama and Detroitskiye Vesty
also led to the abandonment of
Fonarik by many of its advertis-
Yet, the group hasn't lost its
sense of purpose, despite the slow-
ing of immigration, competition
and the absence of a consistent
Scraping up the $300 it takes
to publish every month has been
a matter of pure luck. This
month's issue was made possible
by one advertiser, but nobody on
staff is charged with the job of
selling ad space. It's by word of
mouth that they find benefactors.
"We keep getting to the end of
our rope and somebody comes to
our rescue," Dr. Berton com-
mented. One of her former stu-
dents at the JCC who moved to
New York helped by sending a
Competition from Detroitskiye
Vesty doesn't seem to irk the
group; Dr. Berton remarked with
equanimity that, "Some of their
issues are more interesting than
ours, and some of ours are more
"I think Detroitskiye Vesty is
probably appealing to perhaps dif-
ferent people than we appeal to.
I think they realize there is a
market that hasn't been exploit-
ed. I think there's material (in the
newspaper) that is more appeal-
ing to young people, to be frank."
Of much greater concern than
competition is money.
"I am worried about only one
thing: right now, I have enough
money to go through February,
after which, if some money
doesn't come in, I quit," Dr.
"We need money. Not much
money, but we need it," Mr. Ku-
The Sheffers, who moved to
Detroit from Moscow almost
four years ago, take in enough
advertising revenue to publish
each month. They even sold an
ad to Uzbekistan Airlines in
New York. Plus, they are able
to pay local writers and foreign
correspondents in Toronto and
Daughter Marina, a 27-year-
old ballet teacher, sells ads; Ms.
Melnikova lays out the paper on
a personal computer in the base-
ment and contributes the occa-
sional article, usually about
cuisine; Mr. Sheffer, a stout lin-
guistics professor turned tool and
die engineer, serves as its editor
at large, sometime writer and full-
The trio devotes most evenings
and weekends to the paper.
After Detroitskiye Vesty is de-
signed and laid out, 3,000 copies
are printed and distributed as far
away as Israel. Mr. Sheffer said
there are roughly 100 paid sub-
scriptions, but the paper just be-
gan taking them.
"They didn't take it seriously
at first, but then they started to
subscribe," Ms. Sheffer said.
"Especially those Russians who
want distance from newcomers,"
Mr. Sheffer, 50, added. Now, peo-
ple read the paper "because it's
interesting, something different
than what they have here," he
But Detroitskiye Vesty doesn't
neglect the newly arrived. It car-
ries instructive articles, for ex-
ample, on financial planning and
insurance matters, written by ex-
perts in the fields.
'The writers feel they are help-
ing the community to explain the
life here," Mr. Sheffer said.
Detroitskiye Vesty is perhaps a
truer reflection than its counter-
part of the evolving Russian corn-
munity here — one that is
halfway in and halfway out.
"Some people who leave behind
the Soviet Union don't want to
hear anything about it; others are
full of reminiscences and left only
because they had to leave, and
their minds are still there," said
"We will never be fully assim-
ilated," said Mr. Sheffer. "We
lived over there almost half our
lifetime. We have family and
friends there. We can't wipe our
hands of it." ❑
ut Fo narik,•
call Dr. Luba.
278 0397. To learn inore;
1)etroitskiye Vesty , call Mil*: a
or Marina Sheffer at (810) 3