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Saturday, December 20, 2014

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Effort underway to rescue The CJN

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TORONTO — The board of directors of The CJN has launched an all-out effort to save the print edition of the newspaper.

In response to the “outpouring of concern and the expressions of support,” as mentioned by CJN president Donald Carr in his note to readers on May 2, the board last week appointed one of its members, Marty Goldberg, a well-known community activist and philanthropist in Toronto, to be its “chief rescue officer” leading the overall effort to save the print editions in both Toronto and Montreal. 

Stanley Plotnick, a past president of Federation CJA in Montreal and Jewish Federations of Canada – UIA, will work with Goldberg specifically in relation to the Montreal edition. 

Over the past years, the paper had outperformed most other print media in stanching relative revenue declines. Despite far-reaching cost-control measures undertaken by management and policies that minimized the erosion in advertising revenue, the paper could not withstand the negative impact of digital advertising on print media.

With the help of management, Goldberg immediately embarked on a four-pronged strategy to establish a more secure economic underpinning for a renewed print edition of The CJN. 

The strategy entails refurbishing and updating the paper’s approach to subscriptions and subscription revenues, enhancing advertising revenues through new, long-term arrangements with current and prospective advertisers, establishing a safety net of funding to cushion the paper through periods of advertising revenue shortfalls, and streamlining the newspaper’s current operations.

Goldberg told The CJN that he views this assignment as “absolutely vital to the well-being of the community. So many members of the community, of all ages, all backgrounds, affiliations, non-affiliations and from all corners of the country have spoken to us. And we are doing our best to respond.” 

Goldberg’s sentiments were echoed by veteran CJN board member Lionel Schipper, who said that the “community has expressed its strong sentiment that CJN’s print edition should be saved. But that will only happen if members of the community come forward with support. I am delighted to say that the board’s efforts to secure the necessary financial support have, so far, been very encouraging. I believe Marty will have the tools he needs to pull this off.”

As he writes in this edition of the paper (see statement below), Carr is also “optimistic that we will be able to obtain what we need to achieve our goal of maintaining a Canadian Jewish News print newspaper, including a viable publication for Montreal, as well as strengthening the Internet edition.”

Alana Kayfetz and Rachel Singer, the young professionals who co-founded the savethecjn.com initiative that crystallized the community outcry at the prospect of the paper’s closing, said their involvement in the paper’s rebirth will not end with last week’s rescue decision by the board.

In an email to The CJN, they wrote that “readers have spoken and told us that the Canadian Jewish News is a vital source of communication that touches all facets of the community. This is why we're launching Project CJN 2.0. With a grassroots approach, Project CJN 2.0 will strive to help implement a sustainable plan that will continue to serve the community for many more years to come.”

Many observers noted the irony that it was the key participation of young adults, long presumed to have a waning interest in paper, who, through social media, galvanized the community to try to prevent the closure of the print edition.

Goldberg has given himself a deadline of May 31 to announce whether there will be a new version of the printed CJN.


Message to readers of The CJN

Since my message in The CJN’s May 2 edition regarding the future of the paper, the board of directors has continued to work diligently, and there are substantial positive developments that have taken place. You will see the story elsewhere in this edition.

Some committed members of the community have agreed to provide part of our required financing. Others are being contacted. We are optimistic – though not yet sure – that we will be able to obtain what we need to achieve our goal of maintaining a Canadian Jewish News print newspaper, including a viable publication for Montreal, as well as strengthening the Internet edition.

In addition, it will be essential that our advertisers stay the course and that our subscribers assist. If we are to be successful, practicality dictates that it will be necessary for us to increase subscription rates to a realistic level immediately.

Many of you have told us, by telephone, by email, by letters and face to face, that you will gladly pay an increase. It would be your contribution to the well-being of The CJN – your paper.

It is also critical that we increase the number of subscribers, and we plan to embark on a campaign to achieve that.

We are working against the clock, but we are determined that we must succeed for the sake of the community.

Donald Carr, President

The Canadian Jewish News

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