The New York Jewish Week has been acquired by 70 Faces Media, the publisher of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, in what is being described as “a deal that brings two of Jewish journalism’s most storied brands under one sturdy roof.”
Under the deal, announced Monday, the Jewish Week will remain a dedicated digital brand with its own unique focus on Jewish New York, its people and its institutions, while benefiting from 70 Faces Media’s experience and resources as North America’s largest and most diverse Jewish media organization.
As the publisher of JTA, My Jewish Learning, Nosher, Alma and Kveller, 70 Faces Media reaches more than 3 million unique monthly visitors through its websites and millions more through its international syndication network.
The company hopes to leverage that reach and the Jewish Week’s reporting and signature programs to create a sustainable online model for local community journalism around the country.
“This acquisition provides an opportunity to create a new forward-looking digital vision for the Jewish Week that will benefit our community for years to come while staying true to our editorial values and mission,” said Kai Falkenberg, president of the New York Jewish Week’s board of directors.
Discussions between 70 Faces Media and the Jewish Week began last year, as the Covid pandemic cut into the Jewish Week’s revenue and the paper reluctantly decided to suspend its 45-year-old print edition.
The acquisition was made possible with support by UJA-Federation of New York, which sustained the Jewish Week through the second half of the year and pledged support for projects and programs moving forward.
“UJA-Federation has long-supported the need for independent, high-quality Jewish media and its vital role in informing, engaging, and strengthening our large and diverse community,” said Eric S. Goldstein, CEO, UJA-Federation of New York. “The plan to create a digital future for the Jewish Week brand — that leverages 70 Faces Media’s digital prowess and its other compelling brands — represents an important and exciting opportunity to stabilize and expand the range of news, information, ideas and culture for the New York Jewish Community in the years ahead.”
Other support came from the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, and four additional foundations (the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Maimonides Fund and the Lynn and Charles Schusterman Family Foundation) through their participation in the Jewish Community and Impact Fund which was established to support Jewish communal institutions in the wake of Covid-19. A grant from The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration allowed the Jewish Week to complete financial operations necessary to legally complete the acquisition.
The future of journalism depends on the thorough, essential local reporting and presence the New York Jewish Week is known for, and the forward-thinking digital experience and innovation of organizations like 70 Faces Media.
Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor in chief of the Jewish Week, will continue in the same role and will also serve as senior editor at JTA. Silow-Carroll was JTA’s editor in chief prior to joining the Jewish Week in 2019.
“Coming to the Jewish Week, I quickly saw the potential synergies between the two brands. The future of journalism depends on the thorough, essential local reporting and presence the New York Jewish Week is known for, and the forward-thinking digital experience and innovation of organizations like 70 Faces Media, JTA and their sister properties,” said Silow-Carroll.
Reporter Hannah Dreyfus, a former, award-winning New York Jewish Week reporter, has also been hired.
Thea Wieseltier, who oversaw the New York Jewish Week’s signature programs, will join 70 Faces Media as the director of strategic projects and public programs, a newly created position.
Those signature programs are included in the acquisition:
- Write On For Israel, a two-year seminar program that trains high school juniors and seniors to use writing as a tool to explore issues related to Israel and Jewish life on campus.
- Fresh Ink For Teens, a publication and website by and for young Jewish journalists.
- The Conversation, an annual retreat for top and emerging thought-leaders in Jewish life.
- Public Forums, an annual series in partnership with UJA-Federation of New York featuring guest speakers at the top of their fields, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who made her final public appearance before her death, and the cast of the Israeli television show “Shtisel,” whose three New York-area appearances in June 2019 attracted 7,000 people.
Said Wieseltier: “The Jewish Week could not have found a more congenial and exciting home than 70 Faces Media — we share the same purpose of a rich and truthful and stimulating Jewish journalism.”
70 Faces Media has more than tripled its audience and increased its revenues by 70% since early 2014; that growth has allowed it to leverage philanthropic investments for editorial expansion, audience development, business development, technology and fundraising.
“Over the past six years, 70 Faces Media has dramatically scaled its readership, revenues, and impact on users through our diverse stable of national brands. Now we want to use our resources and expertise to create a vibrant digital future for local Jewish journalism in communities across the country,” said Ami Eden, CEO and executive editor of 70 Faces Media. “We look forward to building on the esteemed history of the New York Jewish Week and developing a lasting and compelling digital identity that reaches new audiences and strengthens the lives of all Jewish New Yorkers.”
The Jewish Week was founded in the late 1970s, and over the decades grew to include three regional editions serving New York City, Westchester County and Long Island. The print newspaper reached more than 55,000 households each week, and the online edition receives hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors.
Over the years the Jewish Week has won dozens of Simon Rockower awards for journalistic excellence from the American Jewish Press Association; several New York Press Association Awards, and the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism from the Journalism Center on Children & Families, including for its aggressive coverage of child abuse and sexual harassment at various nonprofit institutions, communal responses to mental health disorders and funding of anti-Israel activists on college campuses.
Historian Jonathan Sarna, who has written histories of the Jewish media in America, says the acquisition is a welcome step in the evolution of Jewish journalism.
“The New York Jewish community and the world of Jewish journalism will celebrate the news that 70 Faces Media is acquiring the Jewish Week in order to transform Jewish journalism in the New York metropolitan area and potentially across the country,” said Sarna, University Professor and the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History and Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University, and 70 Faces Media board member. “This acquisition provides a model of best practices during these challenging times, and will be closely watched by Jewish media outlets across the world.”
Journalist and author Abigail Pogrebin, who has hosted Jewish Week Public Forums, also praised the acquisition. “The Jewish Week has been a crucial chronicler of the Jewish story, a brave convener of honest interdenominational dialogue, and a canny creator of timely, news-making events,” she said. “I can’t wait to watch its next chapter.”