In February 1917, Jacob Landau, a correspondent in The Hague, launched a Jewish news service whose goal was to collect and transmit news about diaspora communities, via telegraph, with an emphasis on reports from the war front in Europe. He began with a handful of subscribers, but by 1925, after establishing headquarters in New York, the service, known as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, had as clients 400 newspapers, both Jewish and general.
Over the years the service, a nonprofit committed to providing balanced and professional journalism, has reported on the tragedies and accomplishments of world Jewry, from the depths of the Holocaust to the creation of the Jewish state, while carrying reports from correspondents in Jewish communities around the world. Along the way, it has gone from print to digital, from a telegraphic agency sending out daily bulletins to a state-of-the art website constantly being updated with the latest news and analysis.
At a time when traditional media is in peril, beset by economic challenges and demonized by the president as inauthentic and biased, JTA — it has dispensed with its old-fashioned full name — is not only surviving but flourishing, covering a community that likely does not fully appreciate the service it provides in telling the story of the Jewish people in the 21st century.
On Monday night, several hundred people turned out at the Museum of Jewish Heritage to celebrate JTA’s centennial and pay homage to the staff and board leadership that has overseen the organization’s expansion and growth in recent years. Now under the name 70 Faces, the news service hosts a family of brands, including My Jewish Learning, Kveller, Jewniverse and The Nosher, aimed at reaching across the generational divides.
As a longtime client, The Jewish Week salutes our colleagues at JTA, lay and professional, with the hope both institutions will be around for many more decades, serving an ever-evolving Jewish community by telling its story with journalistic integrity and pride.