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In the last few years, it has become almost impossible to avoid the doom and gloom emanating from the publishing industry. In an Internet era when fewer and fewer people are getting their daily news from a hard copy of a publication on newsprint, the conventional wisdom of the day is that papers, and even many magazines, are doomed.
While not ignoring any of the above, the publishers of the Jewish Exponent are still bullish on the format that has been delivered to individual homes and businesses for the last 120 years.
Unlike some dailies, which try to be all things to all people, niche weeklies like the Exponent are still thriving and operating in the black because they continue to give readers what they demand: the world, both local and international, from a Jewish point of view. Although this newspaper does have a presence on the Internet (www.jewishexponent.com), there's no reason why it cannot continue to be published as a print edition for the foreseeable future.
But the ability to hold our market share doesn't mean that new solutions should not be considered to bring in revenue that makes it possible to go on publishing. That is what has led the Jewish Publishing Group to make the decision to open up the front page for advertising, with the first such ad appearing in this week's paper. While there will be some who will be disappointed by this move, the idea of it must be seen in a broader context.
This is a decision that many newspapers around the country and the world have already made. It should also be pointed out that such a move is not unprecedented even for the Exponent, since the very first edition way back in 1887 had a cover that was nothing but ads.
Even more to the point, the Exponent is not a charity. It is a for-profit company owned by a nonprofit entity. That means that its publishers, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, rely on the newspaper to make money to support their efforts on behalf of the entire community. Money donated to Federation for Israel or local Jewish causes should be spent on just that, not the Exponent. As such, it is a requirement to take reasonable measures to ensure the paper's viability as a business.
An ad on the front page may take a little time to get used to, but one thing will not change. The paper will remain dedicated to the same purpose it's always been devoted to: publishing a weekly Jewish product that educates and entertains, and speaks out on issues of Jewish importance every week.
And, with the help of some extra ad revenue, we intend to go on doing that for at least another 120 years!