By Krystyna Henke
The Canadian Jewish News seems to be one of those improbable miracles—a phoenix rising from the ashes—thanks to an extraordinarily vocal and determined community that would not let its weekly go extinct.
Last spring, the community publication, with offices in Toronto and Montreal, a circulation of almost 42,000 and an estimated readership of 100,000, announced it would be shutting down. Like most newspapers these days, it suffered from declining advertising revenue and technological changes in how people consume news. The shock of its demise among readers led to widespread efforts to resurrect the paper, resulting ultimately in the paper’s revival, but with an overhaul of its business and editorial practices.
As of January, a new editor, 33-year-old Yoni Goldstein, is at the helm of the independent Jewish publication. He has replaced Mordechai Ben-Dat, who, for almost two decades took a centrist, non-confrontational approach to the content in the CJN. Goldstein, a former editor at Maclean’s and blogger for The Huffington Post, has big plans. A redesign of the paper is in the works and will be on newsstands mid-April. “It will place The Canadian Jewish News at the top of the Jewish press in the diaspora, in terms of design,” says Goldstein.
Yoni Goldstein, the new editor of The Canadian Jewish News, wants to rebrand the paper as the voice of the Jewish community in Canada. (PHOTO: Alexandra Sipos-Kocsis)
Goldstein says he plans to create a serious newsmagazine with analysis and commentary that will matter to the Jewish community. He is looking to open bureaus across the country and will be hiring someone to revamp the paper’s online presence.
With an improved website comes a different kind of audience. Traditionally, the CJN was read by an older generation. Goldstein wants to make the paper accessible for a younger audience, while keeping ties with its senior base. He is pushing for investigative, original reporting. A recent cover story delves into the controversy over Israeli-Canadian documentarian Simcha Jacobovici, who has sued a biblical archeologist over allegations that Jacobovici’s work about the remains of Jesus and his relatives involves forgery and fraud. Another issue featured an exclusive, in-depth story about the ultra-orthodox group Lev Tahor.
Goldstein says a forthcoming investigative series will be taking a hard look at “a major Jewish institution in Toronto,” raising questions that have been whispered in the Jewish community, but have not been addressed publicly until now. But the editor says he’s “not in the business of pissing people off just for the fun of it.”