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The National Federation/Agency Alliance - 2011 JTA Summary Report

The National Federation/Agency Alliance - 2011 JTA Summary Report

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Published by Joel Alan Katz
Because of the recession and the economics associated with journalism, JTA’s finances remain shaky but ably stewarded and much of its future success is tied up with its initiative to create a common web platform for the purveyors of Jewish news.

Prepared by Stephan Kline and Karen Edell Yoskowitz, The Jewish Federations of North
America

Alliance Participants: Karen Adler (New York), Allan Baumgarten (Minneapolis), Aaron Cohen
(Chicago), Martine Fleishman (New York), Stephan Kline (JFNA), Jody Kaufman Loewenstein
(Milwaukee), Susan Scribner (St. Louis), Steve Seiden (Metrowest), Larry Silverman (New
York), Gary Walk (Palm Beach), Karen Edell Yoskowitz (JFNA).

JTA participants: Ami Eden (publisher and executive editor), David Rudis (President), and Elisa
Spungen Bildner (Chairwoman)
Because of the recession and the economics associated with journalism, JTA’s finances remain shaky but ably stewarded and much of its future success is tied up with its initiative to create a common web platform for the purveyors of Jewish news.

Prepared by Stephan Kline and Karen Edell Yoskowitz, The Jewish Federations of North
America

Alliance Participants: Karen Adler (New York), Allan Baumgarten (Minneapolis), Aaron Cohen
(Chicago), Martine Fleishman (New York), Stephan Kline (JFNA), Jody Kaufman Loewenstein
(Milwaukee), Susan Scribner (St. Louis), Steve Seiden (Metrowest), Larry Silverman (New
York), Gary Walk (Palm Beach), Karen Edell Yoskowitz (JFNA).

JTA participants: Ami Eden (publisher and executive editor), David Rudis (President), and Elisa
Spungen Bildner (Chairwoman)

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Published by: Joel Alan Katz on Sep 07, 2011
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JTA2011 Alliance Summary ReportMarch 15, 2011 Conference Participants
:Alliance Participants: Karen Adler (New York), Allan Baumgarten (Minneapolis), Aaron Cohen(Chicago), Martine Fleishman (New York), Stephan Kline (JFNA), Jody Kaufman Loewenstein(Milwaukee), Susan Scribner (St. Louis), Steve Seiden (Metrowest), Larry Silverman (NewYork), Gary Walk (Palm Beach), Karen Edell Yoskowitz (JFNA).JTA participants: Ami Eden (publisher and executive editor), David Rudis (President), and ElisaSpungen Bildner (Chairwoman)
Mission, Business Model and Governance
JTA’s mission is to be “an indispensable independent resource to the Jewish People” byproviding “compelling news and analysis about Israel and the global Jewish community, in aformat that is timely, meaningful and relevant.” JTA seeks to be “the Jewish reference point fornon-Jewish and opinion makers — a respected, reliable source for the Jewish perspective onissues that matter.” JTA believes it is essential infrastructure for the Jewish community.Broadly speaking, JTA tries to educate and inform the Jewish community about newsdevelopments and issues that affect it. JTA believes that it is the only agency in the organizedJewish community dedicated exclusively to providing Jewish leadership, opinion-makers andactivists with the information and analysis needed to make decisions and take action on behalf of the Jewish people.Headquartered in New York, JTA maintains bureaus in Washington and Jerusalem and part-timecorrespondents in multiple locations around the globe. JTA’s staff includes nine employees inNew York (4.3 administrative and 5.5 editorial), 1 full-time bureau chief in Washington, and 3part-time correspondents in Israel.JTA’s volunteer base consists largely of its 53-member Board of Directors. The Board includesfederation and communal leaders, individuals with a strong interest or expertise in the media, andothers with specialized areas of knowledge. JTA consults with federations when prospecting fornew directors in their communities. There has been a major change in executive leadership atJTA. In July 2010, Mark Joffe, long-time Executive Editor and Publisher, left the organization topursue other opportunities. JTA’s Board of Directors tapped Ami Eden, JTA’s Editor in Chief, tolead the organization. In addition, David J. Rudis (Chicago) was recently elected JTA Presidentreplacing Elisa Spungen Bildner (Metrowest). Elisa had stayed on past her intended term to helpwith the executive leadership transition. She now serves as co-chair.JTA specifically serves over 80 Jewish publications, and their 2 million readers. It hasapproximately 250,000 unique visitors to its website each month, including lay leaders andprofessionals from more than 120 Jewish federations, hundreds of other Jewish organizations,synagogues, day schools and yeshivot, colleges and universities, libraries and researchinstitutions, as well as embassies, government and legislative offices.JTA maintains distribution partnerships with several national media outlets and organizations,including JewishIdeasDaily, Repair the World, Tablet, MyJewishLearning and Sh’ma. Under1
 
these arrangements, JTA distributes content generated by these entities to its network of clientpublications. JTA works with local and national organizations to produce co-branded daily orweekly briefings that the partner entity sends to its members. Through their online contentmanagement system, JTA provides a simple tool by which partner organizations can pull JTAcontent for inclusion in customized e-mail newsletters that contain both Jewish news andorganizational information. The list of organizations taking advantage of this service includesHadassah and the Union for Reform Judaism. At least one Alliance-funded agency, HIAS, andone Alliance participating federation, UJA-Federation of New York, take advantage of thisservice. The co-branded newsletter service provides organizations’ announcements andmessaging with more currency -- and often serves as a hook that makes the organizations’ e-mails more likely to get opened.
Strategic Plan
Given the economic conditions and the ever-changing media landscape, it became clear to JTA’sboard and professional leadership that the organization needed a new model for the future if it isgoing to develop a wider funding base and significantly grow readership in a meaningful way.With the support of the JTA Board, JTA is in the process of creating a strategic plan aimed atsignificantly expanding their readership, especially among Jews under 40.With this goal in mind, they will be tackling the overarching question of what JTA needs to be --in terms of markets, content, delivery systems, timeliness and frequency -- in order to reach awider and younger audience. As part of this process, they will continue conducting interviewsand holding sessions with internal and external experts. They are also in the process of examining existing survey data in order to understand the media consumption habits, and theinterests and passions of their target audience.After making key decisions about JTA’s future identity, they will use this lens to evaluate theirexisting content offerings, to see what should be changed or dropped, while also formulating alist of new areas that they should be covering and products that they should be producing. By theend of April, the JTA Board of Directors hopes to have formulated a full plan withresponsibilities, dates and metrics for revamping existing products and services, as well asrolling out new ones. Initial funding for formulating and executing their new plan will comefrom a small surplus of funding from 2010 and $154,000 in unspent money raised from the JTABoard for the 2008-2010 Business Plan. In addition, they will seek to raise additional funds fromvarious stakeholders, including members of the JTA Board, philanthropists, foundations andfederations. Upon completion, JTA will share the new strategic plan with the Alliance.
Agency’s Accomplishments from 2010
During 2010, JTA introduced
three new blogs
-- The Lifecyclist, focused on Jewish lifecycleevents; Chocolate & Kalamata Olives, the diary of an American Jewish woman’s encounter withthe Israeli food scene, and Quibbles & Kibbitz, a running stream of letters from JTA readers --for a total of seven blogs on the website. In addition, JTA launched a new column that willeventually be turned into a blog, -- the Eulogizer, a daily roundup of the most interesting andimportant Jewish-related obituaries around the globe. JTA also produced 31 videos, through aprogram launched with funding from the National Federation/Agency Alliance and a privatefoundation. Additionally, JTA maintains Facebook and Twitter news applications.2
 
Jewish News Archive:
One of JTA’s most significant accomplishments in 2010 was building astate-of-the-art JTA Jewish News Archive, a dedicated database and website that will allow free,easy access to all JTA reporting since 1923. A nine-month effort, by November of 2010, JTAhad completed the indexing of all of the previously scanned articles, as well as the design anddevelopment of the dedicated website. JTA believes that the archive will revolutionize the wayJewish history is taught and has vast implications for the classroom and community. It has thepotential to reach Jews from the nominally identified to the actively committed, and can makemodern Jewish history come alive in a way that it never has before. The public launch wastemporarily delayed but with the help of a recently hired online archivist, they have outlined aplan for a second phase of Archive development that will lead to public launch by late spring2011.
The Joint Jewish Media Platform:
JTA is spearheading cooperation among Jewish media tocreate a joint digital platform that will provide top-flight media tools, spark groundbreakingeditorial collaboration and open the door to national advertising revenues. While the creation of such a platform would potentially enhance efforts to educate individual Jews, JTA believes thebiggest benefit would be the boost this initiative would provide to local Jewish communities andinstitutions.Participating media outlets – JTA’s current partners are The Jewish Journal of Greater LosAngeles and The New York Jewish Week -- will continue to maintain their own websites fromthe perspective of the front-end user, but they will be sharing the same content managementsystem on the back end and hosting one unified advertising network. This strategy will savemoney by consolidating technology costs incurred by each party; it will boost revenue byproducing combined traffic figures for all of the sites, allowing participating media outlets toattract national advertisers that they could not otherwise attract on their own. The cost savingsand revenue increases will increase as the platform is opened up, with the goal of serving thebulk of existing local and national American Jewish media outlets and interested future start-ups.The common Web backbone will make it easier and more cost effective to launch specialty Webpublications targeted at specific audiences, including local ones and groups of young readers.This effort represents an historic partnership that potentially will help local and nationalAmerican Jewish journalism thrive in a digital future and play a key role in connecting people toJewish life for decades to come. At the GA, JTA hosted a session with its partners in thisenterprise to present the idea to potential funders which met with great interest. JTA is workingto secure $25,000-$50,000 to produce a technical and business plan to show potential fundershow much it will cost to launch such a platform and what will it take to make it economicallyviable. As the planning process develops, JTA will work to establish metrics for measuring theplatform’s value to community. One foundation has already pledged $10,000 to this planningstage, and another has expressed major interest. JTA has hired a consultant who the VillageVoice used when it was consolidating different media ventures to analyze the situation anddetermine next steps for the three partners. The consultant should complete his work in the lateSpring.
News Coverage:
JTA’s accomplishments are often demonstrated by its coverage of major newsstories. JTA led coverage of such issues as tensions between Washington and Jerusalem, thepush for tighter Iran sanctions, Jewish organizational support for the health care bill, the growthof the Tea Party movement and the Republican win in the 2010 election, conversion issues in3

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For more on The National Federation/Agency Alliance (“the Alliance”) see: http://www.jewishfederations.org/page...

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