NEW JERSEY — Jewish homes across New Jersey have been opening their mailboxes each week for generations and receiving news of interest about the Jewish world around them in the New Jersey Jewish News (NJJN): from the hyper local — such as start times for holiday services at different synagogues and who is memorialized in the obituaries — to local, national, Israeli, and around-the-world coverage of social and political events and trends. This week the newspaper becomes the latest business victim of the coronavirus pandemic, and will print its final edition of the paper, ending a 74-year run.
“We were having financial difficulties for quite some time,” said NJJN editor in chief Gabe Kahn, and COVID-19 was the death knell. As events were canceled and buildings shut their doors, revenue from ads from restaurants, businesses and non-profit organizations cratered. Layoffs and downsizing could only help so much, Kahn said. “The writing was on the wall,” he offered. The staff knew they could not survive without their advertisers, and the advertisers could not afford to place ads any longer.
At its height in the 1990s, NJJN was the largest weekly paper in New Jersey, with editions for Greater MetroWest (covering Essex, Morris and Union Counties and environs) weekly; the Middlesex and Monmouth editions were biweekly and the Princeton Mercer Bucks edition was monthly. Currently, NJJN ends its run with 16,000 subscribers.
Maplewood resident Johanna Ginsberg worked as a journalist at the NJJN for 18 years. Being separated from the office and her colleagues will make her miss “the camaraderie and the collaboration.” And, she said, “I’ll miss serving the community, exploring its many varied facets, and shining a light on it.”
Will the paper continue online, as the NY Jewish Week — NJJN’s parent company — will do as it ends its own paper edition? “To my knowledge, no,” Ginsberg said.
“The New Jersey Jewish News has been a mainstay in Jewish households for decades,” said Michael Shapiro, founder and CEO of TAPinto; Shapiro is a former Livingston resident and a prior member of the NJJN board of directors. “I grew up reading it, and it held special meaning for the Jewish community. It is a significant loss, but I am confident the news of the Jewish community in New Jersey will continue to be told.”
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