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L.A.'s Jewish Journal gets boost with provocative articles, big donations

May 12, 2010 |  8:20 am

http://api.ning.com/files/lyDxl9AESoB99QSGOLy63AADnGPqilQC3kiJwfErIkiMien-kZixAe5iDIelIl*TRDilB841zOYzOaKo57IbRn1MLoQXIuQk/cover_082109_293.jpgFew newspapers or magazines escaped 2009 without losses, and the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles suffered like many others.

Operators of the weekly news outlet trimmed staff. They cut salaries 20%. Still, they worried whether the Journal — chronicler of a variety of topics including Torah portions, sexual mores, Mideast politics and entertainment industry chatter — would make it to its 25th anniversary next year.

But by banking hard on two of the most robust growth trends in 21st century media — niche journalism and philanthropy — the Jewish Journal appears to have extended its life expectancy and expanded its coverage of Jewish life in Southern California.

If the experience holds lessons for other ethnic and religious-oriented publishers, it's that you can do good by being good. But it's just as important to have a business plan, friends in the right places and a target audience with a lot of disposable income.

The Journal, its related website and a nascent monthly magazine recently nailed down a critical $800,000 donation that should rejuvenate the organization and guarantee its viability for the foreseeable future.

The money came from four philanthropists — Westfield mall Chief Executive Peter Lowy, Internet executive and venture capitalist Art Bilger, cooking oil maker and long-time Journal board member Irwin Field and a fourth, anonymous, donor.

Read James Rainey's full column here.

Photo credit: Jewish Journal