The most prominent Jewish newspapers in Britain and Canada have both announced this week that they will soon close due to a lack of funds exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The closures will leave the nations with the fourth- and fifth-biggest Jewish populations in the world without non-sectarian newspapers that cover the nationwide Jewish community.
The parent company of the Jewish Chronicle and Jewish News, the two biggest Jewish newspapers in Britain which had already merged ownership structures earlier this year in a cost-saving move, announced Wednesday that they would be liquidated in the next two to three weeks.
“Despite the heroic efforts of the editorial and production team at the newspaper, it has become clear that the Jewish Chronicle will not be able to survive the impact of the current coronavirus epidemic in its current form,” the 179-year-old publication, the oldest continually-published Jewish newspaper in the world, said in a statement. The Jewish News published a nearly-identical statement on its website.
The Canadian Jewish News, founded in 1960, also announced this week that its upcoming print issue would be its last.
“Unfortunately, we too have become a victim of COVID-19,” Canadian Jewish News president Elizabeth Wolfe wrote in the paper. “Already struggling, we are not able to sustain the enterprise in an environment of almost complete economic shut down.”
Media outlets around the world have had financial difficulties over the past decade as print subscriptions have declined alongside advertising revenue.
The Canadian Jewish News, which has a circulation of around 32,000 nearly closed in 2013 before being revived after an infusion of donations.
A not-for-profit organization, the Kessler Foundation, had funded the UK’s Jewish Chronicle for decades at an annual operating loss that eventually to grew more than a million pounds per year. The foundation required an emergency cash transfusion from a collection of donors last year in order to stave off what editor Stephen Pollard called the “real threat” of closure. The Chronicle and Jewish News merged later that year, leading to a combined circulation of around 40,000.
“The Jewish Chronicle isn’t just the oldest Jewish newspaper in the world,” said Anshel Pfeffer, who had been a special correspondent for the JC for twelve years. “It has been an essential window on Jewish life in Britain for as long as anyone alive can remember. It’s served both as a communal newspaper but also as a platform for crusading journalism holding the high and mighty in Britain, Jews and non-Jews alike, to account.”
All three Jewish papers expressed hope that they would eventually reopen in some capacity. “I do believe that it will rise again,” Canadian Jewish News columnist Bernie Farber told the National Post. “I think that once this particular crisis is over and we’re able to take a deep breath I think we will see this newspaper rise.”
Jodi Rudoren contributed reporting.