The weekly Yiddish Forward is cutting back to a biweekly print schedule amid declining circulation and growing financial pressure.
The Yiddish Forward will increase its focus on its website, which will be updated daily with news and multimedia content starting February 4.
Now the last of the Yiddish-language secular newspapers, the Yiddish Forward has published continuously since 1897. Forward officials say they hope the move online will allow the paper to reach a wider audience.
“Much of the print audience is an elderly readership that we feel obliged to keep serving,” said Samuel Norich, president of the Forward Association, which owns the Yiddish news outlet as well as the separately produced and independently staffed English-language Forward. “The growth, we expect, will be on the digital side,” said Norich, who is also publisher of both news organizations.
Known as the Forverts, the Yiddish-language newspaper was once a dominant New York City daily, read widely on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and around the country. In the 1920s, the paper had a daily circulation of 250,000 copies and a nationwide readership of more than a million.
That changed as the Yiddish-speaking secular Jewish community gradually assimilated. Today the Forward Association says the Forverts has a print circulation of 2,100 copies and 6,000 readers. The Forward Association’s Yiddish editorial division lost more than $1 million in 2011 alone, according to a publicly filed financial report.
“It was evident that our Yiddish readership in print was declining,” Norich said. “Some people felt that we were spending too much for what was, in fact, a shrinking readership.”
The Forverts will switch to its new biweekly printing schedule on February 4. The paper’s website, which now updates weekly, will post new content daily. In the transition, the Forward Association’s Yiddish editorial operation will shift from eight full time staff positions to seven, according to Norich. There will be no changes to the staff or publication schedule of the English-language Forward, whose daily website attracts a million page views a month.