The owner of the Jewish News has given the newspaper to a charitable foundation with the aim of making it a “viable and truly independent title placed into strong communal ownership”.
The transfer of ownership comes seven months after the 24-year-old free weekly published its “final” edition amid ultimately aborted plans to go into liquidation to facilitate a merger with rival the Jewish Chronicle.
Property investor Leo Noé, who has owned the Jewish News for about ten years, has gifted the paper to the Independent Jewish Community News Foundation.
The foundation and its group of donors have rebranded an existing registered charity with the aim of enhancing Jewish community life in the UK through the Jewish News.
Additional funding already raised will allow the title to invest in and grow its digital offering and make new hires, ultimately meaning it can both increase its advertising revenue and cover stories in more depth.
Editor and co-publisher Richard Ferrer, who will continue to lead the newspaper’s team of 12 alongside news editor and co-publisher Justin Cohen, said: “Jewish News is the community newspaper. We are proud of the quality news and opinion that led us to be commended by the Society of Editors last year.
“It’s a tribute to our talented team that this vision has been recognised by major figures in the community who want to see Jewish News flourish. After a tumultuous 2020, this support guarantees a very bright future.”
Ferrer added that Noé’s “ambition to see a viable and truly independent title placed into strong communal ownership has been realised”.
“We are hugely grateful to him and to all those who have chosen to support the Foundation at a time of particular pressure on communal funds.”
At the start of November the Jewish News website also began asking readers for financial support in a model now taken up by titles including the Guardian, Yorkshire Post and Liverpool Echo.
A message to readers says: “Today we’re asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
“Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
“For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.”
At the start of this year the Jewish News team spent months planning a merger with the Chronicle but both were forced into voluntary liquidation early on in the coronavirus crisis.
The Kessler Foundation, which owned the Chronicle, subsequently submitted a bid to the newspapers’ liquidators to buy their assets and merge them into one title led by Ferrer.
However this was scuppered by a consortium of business and media figures including the BBC’s former head of political output Sir Robbie Gibb who came forward with a much higher bid for the Chronicle alone. Noé then bought back the News and kept it operating as a going concern.