November 05, 2006

What is

JTA has been around for more than 80 years, but "the global news service of the Jewish people" isn't standing pat. In the following article, Editor & Publisher details the improvements and changes that are happening at the wire service.

JTA has been around for more than 80 years, but "the global news service of the Jewish people" isn't standing pat.

It's looking forward with Web site improvements and a stronger focus on investigative reporting. And it's looking backward and forward with an effort to digitize its content from past decades.

The news service (which uses the JTA abbreviation rather than its full Jewish Telegraphic Agency name) will probably complete the Web revamping next month.

JTA Executive Editor/Publisher Mark J. Joffe said changes in the site will include -- among other things -- a new design, blogs, more interactivity, and more non-JTA content.

"We want to be sort of a one-stop shop for information of interest to the Jewish community," Joffe told E&P.

JTA has more than 100 clients in the Jewish media (mostly newspapers, along with some magazines and Web sites) and also serves as an information source for mainstream-media outlets. In addition, JTA reaches Jewish organizations, schools, and individuals via its Web site (which gets 200,000-plus visitors a month), a daily e-mail newsletter, the wireless "JTA to Go," and in other ways.

Even as it upgraded its site, JTA this month announced the creation of a new position -- editor of investigative projects. Named to that post was Richard Greenberg, who has worked for the Jewish press and written for publications such as the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, and The Washington Post.

Joffe noted that JTA had already been doing investigative journalism, including reports on the Ford Foundation's funding of anti-Israel groups and the problems with Israel 's educational system. But the hiring of Greenberg signifies that this kind of JTA content will increase.

And then there's the digitizing of JTA's archives. "There's some astounding reporting, especially during the Holocaust years," said Joffe, who joined JTA as editor in 1987 and assumed his current dual position in 1993.

JTA has 15 staffers (nine editorial) in its New York City headquarters, two full-time correspondents in Washington, D.C., three part-time correspondents in Israel, a full-time bureau chief in Moscow, and more than two-dozen stringers around the world.

It also operates a syndication service (which includes content such as opinion columns from The Jerusalem Post) and a photo service.

The not-for-profit JTA gets its funding from subscriber fees, grants, and other sources.

"We have diversified sources of support, so no one can claim they're bankrolling JTA," said Joffe. "And we don't hold a particular political viewpoint or have an allegiance to any specific branch of Judaism. We believe our mandate is to serve the entire Jewish community."