JTA publisher steps down, editor tapped to lead agency

JTA publisher steps down, editor tapped to lead agency

NEW YORK – Mark J. Joffe, JTA’s longtime executive editor and publisher has announced that he has stepped down as head of the global Jewish news service, effective July 21, 2010. Following Joffe’s announcement, the JTA board of directors has tapped Editor in Chief Ami Eden to lead the agency.

“The media industry as a whole is undergoing sweeping changes, and the Jewish media vertical is no different,” Joffe said. “I am very proud of where I’ve taken JTA, and I believe the organization is well-positioned for the digital age. But after 22 years, I will be turning my energies to other areas where I can make an impact.”

Joffe began work at JTA in 1987, as the news agency’s editor, and was promoted to executive editor and publisher in 1993. He established JTA’s website (www.jta.org) in 1997, which quickly became the leading destination for global Jewish news on the Internet, and launched several other digital services. In addition, he also has played a lead role in developing the soon-to-be-launched searchable digital news archive of JTA stories produced over the course of the agency’s 93-year history. Under Joffe’s leadership, first as editor and then as publisher, JTA has won numerous awards and accolades for its journalism. Joffe is particularly proud of a 2003 investigative series that revealed that the Ford Foundation had funded much of the anti-Israel activism by NGOs participating in the U.N. conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. The series caused an uproar on Capitol Hill and led to sweeping reforms at Ford and elsewhere in the foundation world.

“We are grateful for Mark’s vision and his many years of loyal service,” said Elisa Spungen Bildner, president of JTA’s Board of Directors. “At the same time, we are extraordinarily confident that Ami and his team will reinforce jta.org as the go-to spot on the Web for Jewish readers, organizations and communities as well as maintain the organization’s essential role as news supplier to Jewish newspapers.”

An award-winning journalist, Eden has served as the editor of JTA for two years, during which time he oversaw a major expansion of the agency’s Web strategy, including the launch of influential politics and philanthropy blogs, and the multi-media Wandering Jew project. Prior to arriving at JTA, he served as the executive editor of the Forward and the founding editor of the JewishDailyForward website.

“I am humbled and honored at the opportunity to lead a media organization that has been on the front lines of one of the most monumental centuries in Jewish history,” Eden said. “We will carry this tradition of journalistic excellence through this new century, serving as the primary national and international news source for Jewish newspapers across the United States and around the world,” Eden added. “At the same time, we will work aggressively to ensure that JTA emerges from this period of industry-wide transition and transformation as a leader in digital media.”

Eden stressed the importance of having a strong team to work with, both in the past and future. “JTA would not be where it is today without Mark Joffe and the agency’s other past leaders,” Eden said. “And the future is bright, thanks to our excellent management team.” Eden is joined on the management team by Director of Finance and Administration Lenore Silverstein, Director of Development Nancy Clayman, Director of Marketing and Communications David Billotti and Managing Editor Uriel Heilman.

Moving forward, the management team will be taking aggressive steps to:

* Enhance JTA’s status as the vital source of news for Jewish newspapers, federations and other organizations.

* Expand the scope of editorial content to serve a wider audience, including younger readers and those unaffiliated with Jewish communal life.

* Develop and expand new revenue streams.

* Push for increased cooperation and new partnerships among Jewish media outlets.

As part of the leadership transition, Eden said, all members of the management team would be playing a greater role in formulating and executing the agency’s business plan, and Heilman would also be playing a stepped up role in running editorial operations. In addition, Eden cited the contributions of JTA’s editorial team, including Washington Bureau Chief Ron Kampeas, Philanthropy Correspondent Jacob Berkman, Copy Editor Marc Brodsky and the agency’s global network of correspondents; he also expressed excitement over the hiring of the agency’s newest full-time writer, author and award-winning journalist Sue Fishkoff.
Joffe said he expects JTA’s record of distinguished journalism to continue long beyond his tenure. “JTA is blessed with an exceptionally talented and dedicated team, now led by Ami Eden, our editor in chief,” he said. “With the support of our incredible board, our loyal clients and our generous funders, they will take the organization to new heights, finding creative new ways to fulfill our mission of educating and informing the Jewish people.”