The Jewish News is the latest in an emerging trend of for-profit, community focused print media companies transitioning to non-profit ownership.
After 78 years as a for-profit entity, the Jewish News will be owned by a non-profit community foundation. Effective October 1, the independent, non-profit Detroit Jewish News Foundation will be the new owner of the Jewish News.
The Foundation’s Board of Directors voted unanimously Wednesday to accept the recommendation of its Transition Workgroup to approve and accept the transfer of certain assets and liabilities from the Detroit Jewish News, LLC to a new Michigan limited liability company to be wholly owned by the Foundation.
Formed as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit entity in 2011, the mission of the Foundation is to educate and strengthen the Jewish community of Detroit and Southeast Michigan by capturing, telling and learning from the community’s ongoing story. To accomplish its mission, the Foundation supports the creation, production, preservation, dissemination and discussion of news and information of journalistic integrity that educate and connect the community.
The Foundation is governed by a 15-member volunteer community board. Arthur Horwitz, who has been publishing the Jewish News since 1986, will receive publisher emeritus status. Kevin Browett will remain as chief operating officer and current staff are being retained.
“The Jewish News has played a vital role in connecting and strengthening Jewish Detroit with independent, credible journalism and as an integral community partner,” said Foundation Vice President Larry Jackier. “The decision by the board helps assure that the Jewish News, through its print and digital platforms, can continue to meet the diverse information needs of the community for years to come.
“Jewish News staff, readers and advertisers will see a seamless transition to non-profit ownership,” Jackier added.
Saving the Industry
The Jewish News is the latest in an emerging trend of for-profit, community focused print media companies transitioning to non-profit ownership. Since 2004, more than 2,100 newspapers across the U.S. have ceased operations. Driving the industry decline has been the advent of digital media and the near-total global digital revenue dominance of just two entities, Google and Facebook. Non-profit ownership enables the Jewish News to expand its traditional advertising and circulation revenue streams through the securing of donations and grants.
“The Jewish News Foundation has the opportunity to serve as a leader, nationally, in its non-profit conversion of a valuable destination for community-based journalism,” said Matt Friedman, a member of the Foundation board and co-founder of Tanner Friedman Strategic Communications in Farmington Hills. “For several years, the Foundation has stayed close to fast-moving trends in the media business, which have only accelerated in 2020, and worked to stay in front of them, so that the Jewish News would have this opportunity before it was too late. We now have the potential to provide the roadmap for cities across the country that want to retain their ethnic news outlets.”
The weekly Jewish News was founded by Philip Slomovitz in 1942. He served as the newspaper’s publisher and editor until 1984, when he sold it to a group headed by Charles A. Buerger, publisher of the nationally acclaimed Baltimore Jewish Times. Horwitz was recruited from the Baltimore Sun in 1986 to assume publishing responsibilities. In 2000, Horwitz and Michael Steinhardt formed Jewish Renaissance Media and purchased the Jewish News and other media properties. Browett joined the company in 2002 and became a partner and its chief operating officer.
According to the 2018 Detroit Jewish Population Study conducted for the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit by University of Miami demographer Dr. Ira Sheskin, 23,000 of the community’s 31,500 households read the Jewish News, with 46% of those reading it with regularity. Data provided by Google Analytics show that from January through July 31st, the Jewish News website www.thejewishnews.com has garnered more than 1 million page views.
“Under the Foundation’s ownership and strategic guidance, the Jewish News will continue to serve and connect Jewish Detroiters, both in print and digitally, to each other and the world around us,” said Horwitz.
“Detroit is one of America’s most admired Jewish communities, and the independence and credibility of the Jewish News will continue to be a key ingredient in its success.
“The story of Detroit’s Jewish community, spanning more than 100 consecutive years and containing 330,000 pages of content, is captured in the Foundation’s William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History. The Foundation’s action helps assure that the next chapters of our community’s ongoing story, both print and digitally, will be written, captured, safely stored and forever available to all through the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library,” he added.
A Jewish News Timeline
- March 27, 1942: First edition of the weekly Detroit Jewish News Founding Editor and Publisher Philip Slomovitz previously served as editor of the weekly Detroit Jewish Chronicle, a competing publication.
- March 27, 1942: Danny Raskin writes his first column for the Jewish News. The 101-year-old Raskin has written a column every week since then, a span of more than 78 years.
- July 20, 1951: The Jewish News acquires the competing Jewish Chronicle, which had been publishing since 1916. The Jewish Chronicle ceases operations.
- March 16, 1984: The Jewish News is sold to an investor group led by Baltimore Jewish Times Publisher Charles A. Buerger.
- May 1, 1986: Arthur Horwitz is recruited from the Baltimore Sun to assume publishing responsibilities for the Jewish News.
- Nov. 8, 1996: Charles A. Buerger passes away at age 58 following complications from heart surgery.
- Feb. 8, 2000: Arthur Horwitz and investor/philanthropist Michael Steinhardt form Jewish Renaissance Media and purchase the Detroit Jewish News and related media holdings from the family of Charles A. Buerger.
- Jan. 27, 2002: An electrical fire destroys the Southfield office of the Detroit Jewish News. Working from temporary space in a nearby hotel ballroom, Jewish News staff put out a 112-page edition, which is distributed only one day late.
- July 2002: F. Kevin Browett joins Jewish Renaissance Media. Becomes chief operating officer and partner.
- July 15, 2011: The Internal Revenue Service grants the independent Detroit Jewish News Foundation 501(c)(3) nonprofit status as a public charity. Arthur Horwitz is the foundation’s founding president.
- November 2013: The Foundation digitizes and makes available the entire contents of the Detroit Jewish News, comprising more than 270,000 pages, free of charge. In October 2015, it includes the contents of its predecessor publication, the Detroit Jewish Chronicle, providing almost 330,000 pages of content spanning more than 100 consecutive years. Collectively, the content is known as the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History.
- December 2017: The Foundation finalizes an agreement with the University of Michigan whereby the entire contents of the digital archive become a part of the Bentley Historical Library’s permanent collection and are available to the public at no charge.
- July 1, 2020: The Foundation board, upon the recommendation of its Transition Workgroup, agree to sign a Letter of Intent to bring the Jewish News under its nonprofit ownership.
- Sept. 16, 2020: The Foundation board, upon the recommendation of its Transition Workgroup, approves and accepts the transfer of certain assets and liabilities from the Detroit Jewish News LLC to a new Michigan limited liability company to be wholly owned by the Foundation. The new ownership is effective Oct. 1, 2020.
- Since 2004:
- More than 2,100 newspapers have closed.
- Print advertising, the industry’s primary revenue source, has declined by more than half.
- Just two entities, Google and Facebook, monopolize almost 80% of all local digital advertising revenue.
- Nonprofit models to help sustain and grow community service-oriented news outlets have emerged. Examples include:
- 2016: Philadelphia Inquirer joins the Tampa Bay Times as the only nonprofit metropolitan daily newspapers.
- 2016: Phoenix Jewish News acquired by the Phoenix Jewish Community Foundation and becomes a nonprofit.
- 2019: Salt Lake City Tribune receives nonprofit status from the IRS.