NEW YORK (JTA) — Philadelphia’s Jewish federation is laying off the entire news and production staff of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, the federation-owned newspaper.
Responsibility for the community weekly is being outsourced to Mid-Atlantic Media, a Baltimore-area company that publishes the Baltimore Jewish Times, the Washington Jewish Week and the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle. Mid-Atlantic will produce the Exponent in its offices in Baltimore, with Joshua Runyan, a former Exponent news editor, serving as editor in chief and hiring a new managing editor and four writers in Philadelphia, according to an announcement posted on the Exponent’s website. Runyan attended college in Philadelphia and previously served as the Exponent’s news editor.
The 15 editorial and production staffers being laid off from the Exponent, which is said to be the nation’s second-oldest continuously published Jewish newspaper, were informed on Wednesday morning. Twelve other staffers who handle ad sales and other tasks will remain in place.
Cost savings was cited as the reason for the changes; the newspaper has been running a $300,000 annual deficit, according to Steve Rosenberg, the chief marketing officer for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
“We lose a great deal of money every year and needed to stop that or there wasn’t going to be an Exponent anymore,” Rosenberg told JTA. “The cost-savings alone in this deal outweigh the money we were losing every year.”
Rosenberg said he expects the Exponent to break even in its first year under the new arrangement.
“Next Wednesday when the paper comes out, nobody will see a difference in the paper – not one,” he told JTA.
When asked if he meant that substituting new staffers for the Exponent’s current editorial staff, with its decades of experience, wouldn’t make a “whit of difference” in the final product, Rosenberg answered, “Correct.”
An item in the Exponent this week noted that the newspaper has won 15 awards this year, including six from the Philadelphia Press Association, five from the Professional Keystone Press Awards, two from the Society of Professional Journalists and two from the American Jewish Press Association.
The Exponent has been published since April 15, 1887.
For the past few years it has been led by Lisa Hostein, a former editor of JTA. Hostein did not return a call seeking comment.