The Jewish Advocate, a 118-year-old Boston news weekly, announced today that it will cease publication.
The paper was the oldest continually-circulated English-language weekly Jewish newspaper in the United States until the announcement of its suspension in its September 25, 2020 issue. The publication, which was founded in 1902 at the suggestion of the father of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, has described itself as the “bold independent voice for the Jewish community in Boston and New England” for over 100 years, and had subscribers in all 50 states and 14 foreign countries, according to its website.
The announcement came after the COVID-19 economic crisis exacerbated the paper’s already-existing struggle from a loss in advertising revenue and a decrease in funding from Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies and other donors. In late-August, The Jewish Advocate Religious News Corp set up a GoFundMe campaign to encourage donations, accompanied by a letter from the paper’s Board of Directors:
“What kind of Jewish voice will we have in Boston? The independent, feisty, community-focused, enemy of bigotry Jewish Advocate, if we can keep it!”
Although the paper grew its subscription revenue and donations, it failed to acquire the funds needed to continue publication. “Through wars, revolutions, depressions and other calamities and hardships over the past 118 years,” a statement on page one of the paper’s final issue read, “the current economic environment and challenges for newspapers in general, and Jewish weeklies in particular, have made it impossible to continue. The decline of advertising revenue, and now in the current pandemic its virtual disappearance has not been sufficiently offset by contributions and organizational support…”
However, The Jewish Advocate also announced its plans to launch a new digital edition of the paper that will focus on advocacy for Jews and the State of Israel, according to its final issue. The digital edition also hopes to provide a forum for the Jewish community in the Greater Boston area. In addition, the Advocate announced that its agreement with NewsBank, a news database and archival resource, will allow the paper to digitize its archives and make them accessible to the public sometime in 2021.
The end of the Advocate’s publication follows a downward trend in Jewish newspapers and Jewish journalism, demonstrated earlier this year with the closing or cessation of printing of the Canadian Jewish News and London’s The Jewish Chronicle. However, according to The Jewish Advocate’s website, it hopes to restore its print publication should support and funding from CJP and other communal organizations return.