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Alberta Jewish newspapers join forces in merger

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(Courtesy Dan Moser)

By the end of January, neither the Edmonton Jewish News nor the Calgary-based Jewish Free Press will exist. Instead, they will have merged into one provincial community newspaper: the Alberta Jewish News.

“We’ve thoroughly enjoyed serving the Jewish community – but it’s time to retire,” Judy Shapiro and Richard Bronstein, the husband-and-wife team that ran the Jewish Free Press for years, wrote in a release published on the new Alberta Jewish News website on Jan. 3.

“We are glad to say that there will continue to be a Jewish newspaper in Calgary. We have sold the assets of our business to Deb Shatz and Dan Moser, the mother and son team who publish the Edmonton Jewish News.”

Moser first heard rumours that Bronstein wanted to sell the paper in early 2019. Tight-knit communities being what they are, Moser learned he went to summer camp with Bronstein’s daughter and reached out to them through her with a pitch.

The Alberta Jewish News website.

By August, the two camps had formally discussed a merger and, over the next few months, they were able to finalize the deal.

“It had been something that my dad, since he was younger, had always wanted to do – have Jewish newspapers in both communities,” said Dan Moser, who runs the Edmonton paper with his mother. His father, who’s now retired, formerly helmed five regional newspapers: Edmonton Jewish News, Alberta Native News, Western Native News, Senior Times and Women’s Paper. (Today, only the Edmonton Jewish News and Alberta Native News still exist.)

Moser joined the family business five years ago, transitioning from a career in sports management, and spearheaded the company’s new digital presence. He created a website for the Edmonton Jewish News and began promoting its content on Facebook, where the two newspapers now have a combined following of around 5,000 people.

He hopes to mimic that success with the company’s presence in Calgary. The Jewish Free Press didn’t have an actively maintained website – something Moser wants to fix as soon as possible. He also plans to keep on as many writers as possible, while also adding new ones. The Jewish Free Press employed no full-time staff aside from its owners.

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed serving the Jewish community – but it’s time to retire.
– Judy Shapiro and Richard Bronstein

The paper will continue to be delivered to households free of charge in both cities. Advertisements and periodic holiday greetings, submitted with a $36 donation, will continue to be its primary source of income.

Each paper had a circulation of approximately 2,100. However, because Calgary’s Jewish population is larger than Edmonton’s (8,335 compared to 5,550, according to the 2011 census), Moser is optimistic that they can grow their presence in the bigger market, while helping each community learn from each other.

While readers throughout Alberta will read one combined newspaper most of the time, during the holiday season, the paper will print a distinct edition for each city, catering to local groups and businesses.

“We encourage the Jewish organizations in Calgary to send us photos, send us clippings, send us things that are interesting to them and we’ll spread the word as best we can,” Moser says. “I envision a world where the organizations are able to build off each other by seeing what each other are doing.”

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