(JTA) — Philadelphia’s Jewish federation has named its top marketing official as publisher of the city’s Jewish Exponent newspaper.
Steven Rosenberg, the chief marketing officer for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, is taking over as the publisher’s representative, as well as the vice president and general manager of the Exponent, replacing David Alpher.
“I’m not a newspaper guy, but I like to think of myself as a smart guy that thinks outside the box,” Rosenberg told JTA. “I have a good background in marketing as someone who understands the media. And a new look at things is always smart.”
Rosenberg, who joined the federation three months ago, served previously as the vice president of marketing and communications at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
The federation is the sole owner of the Exponent, and the paper has been the target of criticism in the past for its handling of stories that did not cast federation priorities or donors in a favorable light. However, Rosenberg insisted that the paper will remain editorially independent.
“I’m not going to tell the executive editor what stories she should write,” said Rosenberg, referring to Lisa Hostein, who served previously as the editor of JTA. “I attend the editorial meetings when I can, and I will always share ideas, but what goes in the paper is her decision, 100 percent.”
Rosenberg said he would be more focused on elevating the Exponent’s profile, and attracting more advertisers, through more appearances at events and by raising the paper’s social media profile. He also said that he would look for “efficiencies on the sales and marketing side” and for other ways to save money on the business end.
According to its website, the Exponent, which has been publishing since 1887, is the second-oldest continuously published Jewish newspaper in the country (following the American Israelite in Cincinnati). However, like newspapers across the country, it has been suffering from declining readership and advertising revenues. The Philadelphia Business Journal reported that the paper has 22,000 subscribers, and Rosenberg acknowledged that it has been losing money.
However, he argued that the paper’s prospects are good.
“Advertisers have to understand, niche papers do very well,” Rosenberg said. “The Philadelphia Gay News is outstanding. Al Dia, which serves the Hispanic community, is a great model. There’s no reason we can’t show advertisers that we’re a great way to reach the Jewish community.”