A Lamentation for the Printed Page



How could this have happened?!

This week, the print publication of our venerable New York Jewish Week will come to an end. Eicha?

The slow but ineluctable demise of print journalism is well documented. The late New York Times media critic David Carr was predicting years ago the death of the newspaper as we know it. Two of the country’s fine newspapers — the Seattle Post Intelligencer and the Denver Rocky Mountain News — went under within months of each other in 2009.  Numerous papers serving small-town markets have died. The Forward, after some troubled years, ceased print publication a few years ago although it continues online.

Eicha?  How could this have happened?

In a world of heroes and villains identifying a single villain is dicey. A shaky economy, exacerbated by the corona pandemic, which killed our advertising during these past crucial months; the decline of a dedicated readership, with a concomitant dearth of support — these are obvious. Nor did the organized Jewish community in New York step up to the plate to organize a rescue effort.

This week Jews around the world ushered in the fast of Tisha b’Av with the chanting of the Book of Lamentations, mourning the destruction of two Temples in Jerusalem and Jewish catastrophe throughout the ages, and recalling the resilience of Jewish peoplehood in the face of catastrophe.

The first word of Lamentations sums it up: Eicha?

How could this have happened?

Jerome Chanes has been a Jewish Week contributor for nearly three decades.