Bank bailouts, stimulus packages, automobile-industry restructurings may be necessary evils, but they're very difficult to wrap your head around.
For countless local Jews -- as our cover story this week illustrates -- the economic ills plaguing our country play much closer to home. The widowed mother who can't find work, the rabbi or synagogue administrator trying to balance the escalating costs of running an institution comprised of anxious congregants, the social-service agency grappling with shrinking resources and more hungry mouths to feed.
The Jewish Exponent is also not immune from the economic downturn. The impact on the newspaper springs primarily from reduced advertising -- a trend in the newspaper industry that preceded the current economic crisis, but which has been exacerbated by it.
Unlike some newspapers that are shutting down altogether or shifting their operations completely to the Internet, the Exponent has taken a less extreme approach.
We have nipped a half-inch from both the bottom and the top of the print edition of the newspaper. This cost-cutting measure is hardly noticeable, yet it will help saves trees in the process.
The good news is that the size of the news print hasn't changed -- nor has our commitment to serving the Jews of Greater Philadelphia.
In fact, you will notice several new features this week. This marks our first phase of changes -- in placement, communication and content -- as we seek to grow with our community.
So what's different?
Placement: (Or: What happened to those candle-lighting times?) Check out our new Index on Page 3 and you will find everything you're looking for. (Hint: Candlelighting is now paired with the Torah commentary; this week it's on Page 14.)
Communication: In our effort to become more user-friendly, we have introduced a slew of new elements:
· A list of main contact numbers and e-mail addresses under the Index on Page 3;
· Contact information for individual editorial, advertising and business staff in the new masthead on the Editorial Page (This week it's on Page 22.);
· Contact information for staff writers and columnists under each story; and
· Printed guidelines and new e-mail addresses to expedite the processing of Community Calendar items, Life Cycle announcements (births, engagements, weddings and anniversaries) and items for the newsmaker "Stars of David" section. See each section for guidelines and e-mails.
We strongly encourage contact through e-mail whenever possible.
Get Involved in the Paper: We have introduced several new ways to get you in touch with what's being printed. More interactive components will be available when we launch a new Web site later this year. But here's a start:
· News tips: If you see news happening or have a story tip, e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org . (Such items should not include Community Calendar items.)
· Photojournalism: You can submit photos to be considered for our "Photo of the Week" featured at the front of the paper and online. We are looking for a shot that depicts an interesting, important, or unusual event or development in Jewish life. A cute candid of your baby is not what we're seeking. An amazing shot of a Purim schpiel at your synagogue or a mitzvah in the making is. Send to: photos@ jewishexponent.com.
· Op-Eds: We are always looking for well-reasoned pieces that focus on issues in our community. We seek a wide variety of views across the religious, political and demographic spectrum. Pieces should not exceed 750 words. Send to: email@example.com .
Content: In the past few weeks, you have gotten a preview of some changes -- more local coverage and local Op-Ed writers, more in-depth coverage of issues.
It is rare that a newspaper devotes itself almost exclusively to a single issue, as we have done this week. But the launch of our series "Tough Times Hit Home," along with related companion pieces, is the surest sign of the Exponent's renewed commitment to covering the issues that matter.
It is not a coincidence that we started this series at the same time that we were forced to tighten our own production belts.
To be sure, the nitty-gritty details required to produce our newly sized paper pale in comparison to the economic woes now gripping the community at large.
It is a story we must -- and will -- continue to tell.