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Jewish Chronicle to become a charitable trust

It comes nearly four years after the weekly newspaper was saved from closure by a consortium.

By Bron Maher

The Jewish Chronicle will become a charitable trust four years after it was saved from collapse by a consortium of funders.

The intention behind the April 2020 deal was that ownership of the JC, the oldest Jewish newspaper in the world, would ultimately be transferred to a trust.

However since then the weekly paper has formally remained in private hands, prompting speculation as to the identity of the consortium’s members.

On Friday morning however the Jewish Chronicle announced that it has instructed solicitors Bates Wells “to create a trust into which ownership of the JC will be transferred”.

Ownership will be “vested in the trust and control exercised by the trustees”.

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Editor Jake Wallis Simons, who was appointed to lead the paper in December 2021 after long-serving predecessor Stephen Pollard stepped down, said that some of those involved in the consortium “are elderly and I understand that their motives are philanthropic.

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“Even prior to the events of 7th October, they had no interest in being publicised as the interim owners of the world’s oldest Jewish newspaper.

“Without their generosity, the JC may not be here today. As we move to a new chapter, I want to thank them for their service to our community. I also want to thank the JC’s staff and contributors whose talent and dedication makes the paper worth reading.”

The interim arrangement for the Jewish Chronicle’s ownership over the past four years has attracted negative attention both for the anonymity of the owners and the involvement of Conservative former Downing Street spinner Robbie Gibb. That scrutiny has been intensified by a series of IPSO rulings upheld against the publisher, although the regulator has to date declined calls for a wide-ranging standards review into the Jewish Chronicle.

[Read more: Jewish Chronicle ‘will never be cowed by attempts to bully us’ as IPSO responds to call for standards investigation]

Last month Sunday Times Whitehall editor Gabriel Pogrund criticised the anonymous consortium arrangement, asking on X/Twitter: “How is it that British Jews don’t know who owns ‘their’ paper. Moreover, how can a paper not disclose its ownership? It’s an oxymoron. I hate having to pose the question publicly but I asked privately more than a year ago to no avail.”

Last month, for the first time, the Jewish Chronicle reported circulation figures to ABC as a magazine, revealing an average print circulation figure of 12,192 per issue in 2023 with just over half those issues actively purchased by consumers. Its digital circulation was 3,290.

The JC also recorded average monthly unique users online of 1.17 million, which it noted was “more than four times the Jewish population of the UK”.

Founded in 1841, the JC was put into liquidation in April 2020 by its then-owner of nearly 30 years, the Kessler Foundation, after it became clear “the business will not be able to survive the impact” of the Covid lockdowns. The consortium that ultimately took control of the paper won out over an alternative plan to merge the JC with its rival weekly Jewish News.

Press Gazette understands the title has seen a substantial uptick in public donations since the October 2023 attack on Israel by Hamas.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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  • COO
  • CFO
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  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
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  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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