Apropos to what Dan Schlossberg wrote in the previous entry, I thought I’d comment what what’s befallen the New Jersey Jewish News, the publication I had written for, lo these past dozen years prior to being let go under a reorganization in September when the New York Jewish Week took over.
I began at NJJN as a freelancer after being downsized by a non-profit that had been my only job after graduating from college. I was in their PR department for mumble-mumble years (all right, so it was more than 20) and was without meaningful employment for almost two years before NJJN hired me as a staff writer. Funny story, that. I called my editor, asking if there might be something more regular I could do. She asked me to stop by the office where I met with the editor in chief and managing editor. I thought it was just an informal chat, dressing fairly casually. By the end of the meeting, the ME asked if I would like to work for them full time. Well, roll me in sugar and call me a doughnut.
That was in 2004. I spent a couple of years as a writer before moving up to the arts and features editor, which included, for a time, a stand alone sports section which morphed into Kaplan’s Korner on Jews and Sports, which was named 2014 blog of the year by the New Jersey Press Association. (Kaplan’s Korner was recently relaunched as an independent blog.)
I naively thought we would be spared what was happening to the rest of the industry. After all, we were a niche publication; there was nowhere else people could get the kind of news were were providing. Silly me. The paper began to shrink, people were laid off, and those of us who remained were asked to take on more of a load. I took on the World News section as well as writing a haiku for each week’s Torah reading.
Even when it was announced –after a ridiculous amount of back and forth and dangling — that the Jewish Week would be assuming control, I still though my position would be safe, especially given the sports angle. But no. Most of the staff left with the printing of the September 15 edition.
Since then, the NJJN has transformed from a newspaper that regularly won awards for design, reporting, commentary, special sections, etc., into something much less. Individual sections seemed to have disappeared, making a mishmash.
|That was then||This is now|
I understand the need for economy of space, but the new design takes away something, IMO. You might disagree.
Because there are fewer people on staff, a lot of mistakes get through: typos, pagination, photos breaking over two pages, multiple fonts in the same article, etc. A number of people in my circle have complained that local coverage seems to take a back seat to material of a more generic nature provided by the Jewish Week. And I don’t think this is all sour grapes and schadenfreude. It’s a general concern for what used to be a source of pride.