Forward Thinking

The New Newspaper Barons

By Jane Eisner

  • Print
  • Share Share

David Carr’s insightful column about the resurgence of newspaper barons struck home for two reasons.

The first, of course, was what prompted Carr to write it: the most recent sale of The Philadelphia Inquirer, my journalistic home for 25 years. When I return to Philadelphia, which I do now with less and less frequency, I’m startled by how thin and wan the newspaper has become, looking like a patient with the kind of illness that saps the body of weight, strength and vitality.

Yet more than once, especially upon reading another stellar investigative story, I have also been reminded of the determination of so many of my former colleagues to maintain the quality and the mission of the enterprise — an enterprise Philadelphia desperately needs and deserves.

The Inquirer newsroom is but a fraction of what it was in the 1980s and 1990s, the scope of coverage has shrunk dramatically, and I can’t imagine that it is as silly and irreverent a place as I remember. But there are still good people there doing good work, and one can only hope that the latest gaggle of businessmen who have bought the entire company for far less than the price of the fanciest apartment in Manhattan know what they are doing. And know how to make it work.

The second reason Carr’s piece struck home is more immediate. The sale of The Inquirer, and other metropolitan newspapers bought by rich guys, highlights the need for alternative ways of funding journalism. That’s the challenge in my current home, The Forward.

We’ve been a non-profit since the doors to the Yiddish Forverts opened in 1897, but only in the last two years have we become a 501(c)3, actively fundraising to supplement circulation and advertising revenue, and our investments. And we want to raise money our way. We don’t want the philanthropic version of a single “newspaper baron” dictating content or politics, no matter how well-meaning that person may be.

Instead, we want to maintain the sense that, as our publisher often notes, we are a news organization from the bottom up, not the top down, serving our readers, not necessarily our leaders, supported by as wide and as deep a swath of the American Jewish community as possible.

That means we must count on the participation of lots and lots of ordinary people. In a sense, that’s what newspapers used to be able to count on — the ordinary subscriber, the ordinary advertiser, the people who believed that good journalism was a public service that they were willing to pay for and support. It’s not just that the economics of the newspaper industry have been upended. It’s also the sense of reciprocity with the community that’s disappeared.

Who are the new newspaper barons? You and you and you.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.