What would Ab do? When faced with a great challenge, there’s the human tendency to launch a conversation with someone from the past whose leadership and vision would be so helpful today. At The Forward, that someone is Ab Cahan, our legendary founding editor, who oversaw half a century of innovative, impactful journalism.
What would Ab do in today’s confusing media landscape, where threat and opportunity can seem nearly indistinguishable? I’d like to believe that the man who introduced so many new concepts to American journalism — from national distribution to the Bintel Brief — would want us to continue to evolve.
So we are.
Little more than a year ago, we launched The Forward Today, our daily morning newsletter, a major step in our evolution from a print-only weekly newspaper to a news organization with a vibrant, constantly updated presence. We are now taking the next evolutionary step by reorganizing our newsroom to enable us to more creatively and aggressively embrace our digital future while remaining committed to the print product many of you still want to hold in your hands.
Our goal is to create four “desks” — teams, in journalistic parlance — organized around content and responsibility to reflect the different ways people read in print, online and on mobile devices.
Some of this has happened organically over the last year. Our news and opinion desk, led by assistant managing editor Larry Cohler-Esses and opinion editor Gal Beckerman, has already made great strides in jumping on breaking news while maintaining the ethical distinction between news gathering and opinion writing. J.J. Goldberg, our editor-at-large, has made a singular contribution to that effort, along with our reporters and correspondents in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Israel.
I am thrilled that our arts and culture desk will be headed by a new editor, Adam Langer, an accomplished novelist, editor, theatre critic, features writer and all-around culture maven. He will be assisted by Ezra Glinter, who will be promoted to deputy arts editor, and will continue to run the Arty Semite blog and work with the Yiddish Forward to develop its digital presence. Naomi Zeveloff, this year’s Forward Fellow, will become the new deputy culture editor, in charge of the Shmooze blog and stories that, in her lovely words, reflect “the emotional heartbeat” of our work.
I am also thrilled to announce the expansion of our digital media desk. Dave Goldiner will become the new digital news editor, overseeing our growing online news operation and the Forward Thinking blog. Abigail Jones joins our staff as the new digital features editor. A former Forward intern, Abigail was the senior manager for social media and the Web at The Daily, the first national news publication created for tablets, and she will bring her deep digital experience back to the Forward. She will also edit the Sisterhood blog. Nate Lavey will continue to produce his award-winning videos, as digital media producer. And Devra Ferst will be promoted to deputy digital media editor, working with Dave and Abigail to develop new digital offerings while contining her role as food editor and head chef of the Jew and the Carrot blog.
Happily, our production desk will remain in the capable, creative hands of art director Kurt Hoffman and deputy art director Elaine Tin Nyo, and Teri Zucker continues in her role as copy editor. Maia Efrem will become my new assistant, while retaining her position as research editor and assisting Dan Friedman in managing the newsroom.
Dan has been instrumental in shaping this new newsroom and recruiting such wonderful talent. We are both grateful to our publisher, Sam Norich, for supporting and encouraging these moves. At a time when so many journalistic enterprises are downsizing their ambitions, it is a pleasure to work for an organization that is ever more eager to embrace the future.
I hope Ab Cahan would approve.
Jane Eisner, a pioneer in journalism, is writer-at-large at the Forward and the 2019 Koeppel Fellow in Journalism at Wesleyan University. For more than a decade, she was editor-in-chief of the Forward, the first woman to hold the position at the influential Jewish national news organization. Under her leadership, the Forward’s digital readership grew significantly, and won numerous regional and national awards for its original journalism, in print and online.