Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
Next week’s celebration of the Jewish New Year will mark the end of an era for readers of the Jewish Reporter.
The newspaper will cease publication after 33 years of reporting on such local news as religious celebrations and charitable outreach programs — and on subjects as weighty as international politics and tenets of the Jewish faith.
The free newspaper, which published 17,000 copies as often as twice a month, is being pinched out of business by a stingy economy and competition for funding with other community programs.
“The Jewish Reporter was an important institution for our community,” said Elliot B. Karp, president and CEO of the United Jewish Community/Jewish Federation of Las Vegas, which published the newspaper.
“The newspaper has served us well and we’re proud of it. But we’re enthusiastically looking to a new era of communicating and maintaining contact with our community.”
A drop in donations to the federation — also a sign of the times — hastened the decision to shutter the paper, Karp said.
“We had to reevaluate our priorities,” he said. “Are the dollars that went to publishing the Reporter better used to help people? The answer to that was, yes.”
The decision came easier because the federation has other avenues to reach the Las Vegas Valley’s estimated 75,000 Jews, Karp said.
The Jewish Federation has developed a robust Web site, www.jewishlasvegas.com, that provides the sorts of news, features, essays and announcements contained in the newspaper. Karp also sends out weekly e-mail newsletters to a growing number of recipients.
“Like every other publication, especially for nonprofit organizations, we’re much more invested in alternative forms of communication on the Internet,” Karp said.
The loss of the Jewish Reporter proved the topic of conversation this week at a meeting of the Southern Nevada chapter of Hadassah, said Ellen Burke, past president of the women’s outreach organization.
“The Reporter has been how we’ve kept up with what happens in our community, what’s coming up, when the meetings and events are, whose bar mitzvah was last week or next week,” Burke said.
She waved off the notion that it can be replaced by a Web site or e-mail, saying she is so flooded with e-mail that she has made it a habit of “delete, delete, delete” without reading many.
“And a lot of our members are older women who have no computers or, if they do, don’t know how they work,” she said. “They would never look there for news. We won’t be able to reach them.”
That challenge will change with the next generation, she said, but for now “we’re going to be hindered without that newspaper connecting us.”
Karp said he is not worried about the closure, saying the loss of the Jewish Reporter is part of the evolution of communications. “Forty years ago, we used mimeographed fliers and postcards. Then newspapers, and the Reporter was born, and it served the community exceedingly well, right through today.
“And now it’s time to move on to a new technology.”
The demise of the Jewish Reporter leaves the 45-year-old, biweekly Las Vegas Israelite as the lone newspaper targeting the Jewish community in Southern Nevada. The Israelite is independent of the Jewish Federation and boasts a paid circulation of 10,000 with an additional distribution of 33,000 free copies.
Its editor, Michael Tell, says his publication has a different flavor than the Jewish Reporter: “Ours is the only Jewish newspaper in the country that will tell you who Paris Hilton’s new boyfriend is.”
For its part, the Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas says its newspaper, the Desert Clarion, is financially safe for now. The publication, which is printed four to six times a year, is advertising-free and funded through parish donations, said Monsignor Kevin McAuliffe, the chancellor of the diocese.
Those donations are down about 10 percent, he said, but there is still enough money to publish the newspaper.