This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
), 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) Mission, Business Model and Governance JTA’s mission is to be “an indispensable independent resource to the Jewish People” by providing “compelling news and analysis about Israel and the global Jewish community, in a format that is timely, meaningful and relevant.” JTA seeks to be “the Jewish reference point for non-Jewish and opinion makers — a respected, reliable source for the Jewish perspective on issues that matter.” JTA believes it is essential infrastructure for the Jewish community. Broadly speaking, JTA tries to educate and inform the Jewish community about news developments and issues that affect it. JTA believes that it is the only agency in the organized Jewish community dedicated exclusively to providing Jewish leadership, opinion-makers and activists 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-time correspondents in multiple locations around the globe. JTA’s staff includes nine employees in New York (4.3 administrative and 5.5 editorial), 1 full-time bureau chief in Washington, and 3 part-time correspondents in Israel. JTA’s volunteer base consists largely of its 53-member Board of Directors. The Board includes federation and communal leaders, individuals with a strong interest or expertise in the media, and others with specialized areas of knowledge. JTA consults with federations when prospecting for new directors in their communities. There has been a major change in executive leadership at JTA. In July 2010, Mark Joffe, long-time Executive Editor and Publisher, left the organization to pursue other opportunities. JTA’s Board of Directors tapped Ami Eden, JTA’s Editor in Chief, to lead the organization. In addition, David J. Rudis (Chicago) was recently elected JTA President replacing Elisa Spungen Bildner (Metrowest). Elisa had stayed on past her intended term to help with the executive leadership transition. She now serves as co-chair. JTA specifically serves over 80 Jewish publications, and their 2 million readers. It has approximately 250,000 unique visitors to its website each month, including lay leaders and professionals from more than 120 Jewish federations, hundreds of other Jewish organizations, synagogues, day schools and yeshivot, colleges and universities, libraries and research institutions, 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. Under 1
these arrangements, JTA distributes content generated by these entities to its network of client publications. JTA works with local and national organizations to produce co-branded daily or weekly briefings that the partner entity sends to its members. Through their online content management system, JTA provides a simple tool by which partner organizations can pull JTA content for inclusion in customized e-mail newsletters that contain both Jewish news and organizational information. The list of organizations taking advantage of this service includes Hadassah and the Union for Reform Judaism. At least one Alliance-funded agency, HIAS, and one Alliance participating federation, UJA-Federation of New York, take advantage of this service. The co-branded newsletter service provides organizations’ announcements and messaging with more currency -- and often serves as a hook that makes the organizations’ emails more likely to get opened. Strategic Plan Given the economic conditions and the ever-changing media landscape, it became clear to JTA’s board and professional leadership that the organization needed a new model for the future if it is going 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 at significantly 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 a wider and younger audience. As part of this process, they will continue conducting interviews and 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 the interests and passions of their target audience. After making key decisions about JTA’s future identity, they will use this lens to evaluate their existing content offerings, to see what should be changed or dropped, while also formulating a list of new areas that they should be covering and products that they should be producing. By the end of April, the JTA Board of Directors hopes to have formulated a full plan with responsibilities, dates and metrics for revamping existing products and services, as well as rolling out new ones. Initial funding for formulating and executing their new plan will come from a small surplus of funding from 2010 and $154,000 in unspent money raised from the JTA Board for the 2008-2010 Business Plan. In addition, they will seek to raise additional funds from various stakeholders, including members of the JTA Board, philanthropists, foundations and federations. 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 lifecycle events; Chocolate & Kalamata Olives, the diary of an American Jewish woman’s encounter with the 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 will eventually be turned into a blog, -- the Eulogizer, a daily roundup of the most interesting and important Jewish-related obituaries around the globe. JTA also produced 31 videos, through a program launched with funding from the National Federation/Agency Alliance and a private foundation. Additionally, JTA maintains Facebook and Twitter news applications. 2
Jewish News Archive: One of JTA’s most significant accomplishments in 2010 was building a state-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, JTA had completed the indexing of all of the previously scanned articles, as well as the design and development of the dedicated website. JTA believes that the archive will revolutionize the way Jewish history is taught and has vast implications for the classroom and community. It has the potential to reach Jews from the nominally identified to the actively committed, and can make modern Jewish history come alive in a way that it never has before. The public launch was temporarily delayed but with the help of a recently hired online archivist, they have outlined a plan for a second phase of Archive development that will lead to public launch by late spring 2011. The Joint Jewish Media Platform: JTA is spearheading cooperation among Jewish media to create a joint digital platform that will provide top-flight media tools, spark groundbreaking editorial 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 the biggest benefit would be the boost this initiative would provide to local Jewish communities and institutions. Participating media outlets – JTA’s current partners are The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles and The New York Jewish Week -- will continue to maintain their own websites from the perspective of the front-end user, but they will be sharing the same content management system on the back end and hosting one unified advertising network. This strategy will save money by consolidating technology costs incurred by each party; it will boost revenue by producing combined traffic figures for all of the sites, allowing participating media outlets to attract national advertisers that they could not otherwise attract on their own. The cost savings and revenue increases will increase as the platform is opened up, with the goal of serving the bulk 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 Web publications targeted at specific audiences, including local ones and groups of young readers. This effort represents an historic partnership that potentially will help local and national American Jewish journalism thrive in a digital future and play a key role in connecting people to Jewish life for decades to come. At the GA, JTA hosted a session with its partners in this enterprise to present the idea to potential funders which met with great interest. JTA is working to secure $25,000-$50,000 to produce a technical and business plan to show potential funders how much it will cost to launch such a platform and what will it take to make it economically viable. As the planning process develops, JTA will work to establish metrics for measuring the platform’s value to community. One foundation has already pledged $10,000 to this planning stage, and another has expressed major interest. JTA has hired a consultant who the Village Voice used when it was consolidating different media ventures to analyze the situation and determine next steps for the three partners. The consultant should complete his work in the late Spring. News Coverage: JTA’s accomplishments are often demonstrated by its coverage of major news stories. JTA led coverage of such issues as tensions between Washington and Jerusalem, the push for tighter Iran sanctions, Jewish organizational support for the health care bill, the growth of the Tea Party movement and the Republican win in the 2010 election, conversion issues in 3
Israel, pro-Israel advocacy, the collaboration among nonprofit groups to weather the recession, and the growth of alternative ways of worshipping and engaging in Jewish life. Frequent citations of JTA breaking news, analysis and blogs in such varied publications as The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The National Review Online and The Atlantic Monthly are a testament to the influence JTA carries not just in the Jewish community but in the larger society. Moreover, the steady traffic at JTA.org is a sign that JTA continues to serve as a central source of news about the Jewish world for Jewish readers, Americans generally, and decisionmakers in government and the nonprofit world. Globally, JTA’s network of experienced and well-placed foreign correspondents allowed for continued timely and comprehensive coverage of key stories and issues affecting Jews around the world, from the transformation of life in Eastern Europe 10 years after the end of Communism to the fight over shechitah in New Zealand to anti-Semitism and Holocaust restitution issues in Europe to Jewish life in Latin America, Russia and around the world. Budget The 2008-2010 JTA Business Plan was adopted in order to secure the agency’s future by increasing membership, revenue and philanthropic support. In some cases JTA made great strides or laid the foundation for future growth; in other areas they failed to record significant progress, but learned valuable lessons for the future. The funding that stemmed from this Business Plan provided JTA with the ability to recruit and retain several key employees, who played key roles in helping JTA manage during the economic downturn. It also provided JTA with a small buffer to work through the departure of their Editor in Chief who had been with JTA for more than 20 years. Specific accomplishments made possible by the Business Plan include: • • • • Increase in annual unrestricted grants from $85,000 in 2007 to the projected $174,000 in 2010. Increase in annual online revenue (donations, advertisements) from $70,000 in 2007 to the projected $183,000 in 2010. Raising of just under $740,000 in restricted grants, including about $400,000 for the JTA Jewish News Archive. Launching of blogs, video program, and the JTA Jewish News Archive.
Despite the success of the Business Plan, the recession continued to have a negative impact on JTA’s revenue sources in 2010. Consequently, JTA is projecting a 20%, or $486,000, decline in Total Revenue and Support from 2009 to 2010. But with additional cost-cutting steps and some increases in various revenue lines, JTA obtained a surplus for 2010 and anticipates a balanced budget for 2011. Serious cost-cutting measures in salaries, rent and administrative expenses helped reduce expenses by $121,000 (5%). As the economic health of local newspapers declines, many of the community newspapers JTA serves are facing severe financial distress, as their own circulation and advertising decline. Some newspapers have cut down in size, as both readers and advertisers flock to the Web. Others have gone from weekly publication schedules to monthly. With these stripped down formats, a number of these papers can no longer afford to purchase JTA content and several community newspapers have folded entirely. JTA is addressing these challenges in several ways: When 4
possible, they have adjusted downward the rates they charge to financially distressed newspapers. The effect of these rate reductions was still being felt in 2010. Newspaper revenue fell from $706,000 in 2009 to $640,000 in 2010, a 9% drop in one of their core revenue streams and are expected to be beneath $575.000 by the end of 2011. Most of the remaining drop in JTA revenues stemmed from its strategic decision to shift the focus in 2010 from raising restricted grants to unrestricted grants. One reason for this decision was that JTA was already carrying over $500,000 in Restricted Grants, and the staff was too stretched to take on the added burden of managing additional restricted projects. This change in fundraising focus was also fueled by the sense that -- given the overall economic climate and related challenges facing many organizations -- potential funders were more willing to consider unrestricted support. JTA had determined that such a shift in emphasis was in its best long-term interests, since JTA needed to begin building a wider base of unrestricted support to offset future declines in newspapers revenues and other key funding sources. This shift in strategy produced a record level of unrestricted donations. JTA nearly doubled its results on this line, jumping from $90,650 in 2009 to at least $174,000 by the end of 2010 (although the amount budgeted was $300,000). The other major boost in revenue came from online advertising, with a jump from $53,000 in 2009 to about $103,000 in 2010. New clients and initiatives, including e-blasts, accounted for most of the increase. With an improved marketing plan for 2011, these new sources could continue to grow JTA’s revenues. JTA recognized that it received a vital boost (and major indication of support) from the Alliance, when it decided to increase rather than decrease its allocation to JTA, from $429,249 in 20092010 to $436,004 in 2010-2011. The Alliance allocation helped stabilize the organization, allowing JTA to retain key personnel that produced the increases in unrestricted grants and online advertising. However, allocations from non-Alliance federations were virtually cut in half, declining by $13,000 (47%) from $28,000 in 2009 to $15,000 in 2010. Revenue from Canadian Federations dropped slightly as these federations allocated $26,000 in 2010 (down from $27,000). Board Contributions dropped from $270,000 in 2009 to the projected $247,000 in 2010. General contributions, mostly small gifts given in response to online appeals, dropped from $120,000 in 2009 to the projected $80,000 in 2010 (although these figures included a one-time $30,000 donation, so the actual drop-off in small gifts was much less). In both Board donations and general contributions, JTA expects the final audited results in 2010 to be slightly higher than the current projections. JTA anticipates a balanced budget for 2011. It plans to use its 2010 surplus and about $154,000 in unspent funds from its 2008-2010 Business Plan to create and execute a new strategic plan for JTA’s future. In an emergency, however, these funds could be used to cover core operations. JTA is also exploring ways to reduce its fixed expenses, including rent in New York and Washington, which could produce as much as $100,000 in savings in 2011. In addition, JTA continues to evaluate ways to carry on operations if additional fulltime staff reductions are required. Advancing Alliance Priorities 5
JTA demonstrates its case for furthering each of the Alliance priorities. Building Capacity and Servicing Local Agencies In the business of directly servicing local Jewish newspapers, JTA also provides Jewish communal professionals and lay leadership with “need-to-know” coverage and analysis of news developments affecting Jews around the world, as well as issues of importance to our community. JTA content is available in a variety of formats, across multiple platforms. They also provide a variety of news services that strengthen federation Web sites. Israel JTA devotes significant resources to coverage of news developments, trends and issues in Israel. JTA’s in-depth analysis of diplomatic and political developments facing the Jewish state is among the most read components of JTA’s work. At a time of increased partisanship and biased discourse, JTA’s value as a source of credible, nonbiased information on Israel-related issues is crucial. JTA’s three half-time reporters in Israel and its Washington Bureau Chief combined to provide breaking news coverage and in-depth analysis of developments in Israel, the Middle East and Washington. Domestic correspondents also provided reporting on trends in pro-Israel activism with several videos focused on the activities of younger Jews, especially in college. The coverage has featured articles on the federation movement’s support of Israel, including the launch and continuing efforts of the Israel Action Network. In a related development, JTA has been raising money for the creation of a reporting position dedicated to covering the growth and inner-workings of the anti-Israel BDS (boycotts, divestment, sanctions) movement. Jewish Life and Learning JTA provides regular coverage of developments and trends in Jewish life – both in America and abroad. This includes regular feature stories, news briefs, columns, blog posts and video. Developments in the field of Jewish education are reported regularly in The Fundermentalist, JTA’s philanthropy blog and newsletter. Human Services JTA’s reporters, especially full-time domestic correspondents in Washington, New York and San Francisco, combined to produce original reporting on issues relating to aging/older adults and economic vulnerability among Jews. This coverage focused on various levels, including government policy, philanthropic trends and human interest stories. In addition, on JTA’s website, and in the JTA Daily Briefing and The Fundermentalist e-newsletters, they aggregated and linked to relevant coverage on these issues that appeared in other publications. Outcome Evaluation JTA’s overall readership remains steady. JTA currently has very limited data about which users are consuming specific content and through which channels. But, as part of JTA’s current strategic planning process, JTA is be applying for funding to devise and implement a plan for establishing more sophisticated metrics to answer such questions. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Jewish communal professional and lay leadership, especially within the federation system, 6
makes up a sizable portion of JTA’s readership. These various initiatives aid local agencies with infrastructure support and institution building, as well as human resource development. As part of its strategic planning process in 2011, JTA is assigning a specific staff person to evaluate its services to Alliance communities and the wider federation system. This person will survey Alliance federations to see whether current content offerings and delivery systems are doing enough to help Federations meet their goals -- whether in educating lay and professional leaders, or reaching new and younger constituencies. This person will make sure that federations are aware and taking advantage of current services, while also soliciting substantive input to determine what additional services are needed. Review Based on the materials presented to it and the conversation with senior JTA professional and lay leaders, the members of the Alliance review team agree with the following statements. JTA appears to be well run with competent professional leadership and engaged board members. The organization advances all of the Alliance priorities. 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
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.