The Jewish News is the latest in an emerging trend of for-profit, community focused print media companies transitioning to non-profit ownership.
It’s that time again. It happens every few decades. The JN has reached another stage in its evolution. As of Oct. 1, the JN will now be a publication of the nonprofit Detroit Jewish News Foundation. While the ownership has changed, the newspaper’s editorial policies have not. The JN will remain an independent voice for the Detroit Jewish community.
Just like Detroit’s Jewish community, the nature of Jewish newspapers has evolved over the last century. The Detroit Jewish Chronicle, launched March 3, 1916, was the first successful English-language Jewish newspaper in Detroit. The Chronicle had a 35-year run until 1951 when it merged into the JN. The newspaper was also where Philip Slomovitz started out.
The JN began publication on March 27, 1942, with great fanfare. For the next nine years, Detroit had two competing English-language Jewish newspapers.
The JN, however, represented a different approach. Philip Slomovitz was editor and co-publisher with Maurice H. Schwartz, and the original directors and advisory board for the JN consisted of local Jewish luminaries such as Fred Butzel, Theodore Levin, Leonard Simons and Rabbis Morris Adler and Leon Fram. The JN was also a stronger advocate for Zionism, and it provided increased international reporting from sources such as JTA, which the JN still uses today.
As the JN grew, so did the reputation of Slomovitz. By the 1960s, he was recognized as the dean of Jewish American journalists. It was a richly deserved title. Indeed, his imprint is still felt by the JN today. He remained editor until 1984 and wrote a weekly column until 1990, when he was 94 years old.
The next phase of evolution for the JN came on March 16, 1984, when Slomovitz sold the JN to investors from Baltimore headed by Charles Buerger of the Baltimore Jewish Times. In May 1986, Arthur Horwitz arrived in Detroit and, for the next 34 years, was responsible for publishing the JN. On Feb 11, 2000, the JN announced Horwitz had partnered with Michael Steinhardt to acquire the JN and Atlanta Jewish Times.
This week, we’re celebrating the next point of evolution – the JN will now be published by the Detroit Jewish News Foundation. The Foundation itself was formed in 2011 with the mission of educating and strengthening the Jewish community of Detroit by capturing, telling and learning from the community’s ongoing story.
One of its first actions was establishing a digital archive of every page of the JN and Chronicle. This free, word-searchable archive, the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History, was completed in 2015. And in the future, each year of the JN will be added to the database, which will be maintained in perpetuity by the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan, which now hosts the Archive as one its historical collections.
So, in 2020, the JN will began another phase of its 78-year history. The future for the JN is just as bright as it was the first day it was published.
Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.