JFL Media in the Jewish Advocate
Posted September 9, 2009
Teen mag to stop printing
Newton-based JVibe hopes to continue online
By Elise Kigner Advocate Staff
A magazine for Jewish teens will deliver its last print issue this month. JVibe, a bimonthly magazine on music, celebrities, community service and Israeli news, will publish online at least until October, and may shut down at that point if a new publisher is not found.
The transition from print and online content to online-only comes in the wake of a Newtonbased media company’s decision to find new publishers for its journals and magazines. JFL Media says its funding sources are running dry.
The nonprofit also published BabagaNewz, an online Jewish classroom magazine; Sh’ma, a journal of Jewish responsibility; and JBooks, a magazine about Jewish books and culture. The company will likely dissolve, according to CEO Amir Cohen.
As JFL winds down its operations, staff are being laid off. JVibe editor Lindsey Silken and associate editor Kali Foxman were laid off last week. The magazine now has no editorial staff, but has enough stored content for an online issue in October, Cohen said.
Since notifying the magazine’s 80-member advisory board, the editors said they have been receiving emails expressing concern.
One college-bound teen said the issue that featured a gay athlete helped him come out to his family and friends.
“The emails have been heartbreaking and emotional. They’ve really been impacted by this,” said Silken.
JVibe gives the Jewish perspective on teen topics like sexuality, Foxman said. In a story on teen pregnancy, she detailed what Jewish law says about birth control and abortion.
“I think the stories are really relevant to teens today, and it’s different from a typical teen magazine because we’re not trying to be preachy in any way,” Foxman said.
The Web site, www.JVibe.com, now includes stories on Jewish pop-rock singer Rachel Millman; a first-person account about telling a host family in France about being Jewish; and an “18 under 18″ list of teens dedicated to a cause or pursuit reflecting Jewish values.
JVibe has 17,000 subscribers, 85 percent of whom receive the magazine free through grants in local communities. Boston area donors have never expressed interested in funding local subscriptions, Cohen said.
Teens in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Nevada, Maryland, Ohio, New Jersey and California all receive free three-year subscriptions to JVibe.
Cohen predicted JVibe could be successful, even if a new publisher decides to make it an online-only publication. For example, he said, a JVibe Survey on dating, love and sex conducted online this spring yielded close to 500 responses from teens. When JVibe was founded in 1998, it was an online publication. The print version was launched five years ago.
David Mersky, who is on the board of JFL media, said some donors to JFL Media, including the Avi Chai Foundation, are pulling out portions of their funding. Prospects of a decline in donations played a role in the board’s decision in May to find new publishers for their four publications.
Last month JFL Media announced a decision to transfer ownership of JBooks, a magazine about Jewish books and culture, to the magazine’s editor, Ken Gordon.
Cohen said he expects the process of JFL’s dissolution to be finished by Thanksgiving, unless someone steps in with half a million dollars. Cohen is now working on a 35 percent pay cut and expects to lose his own job.
A new owner for Sh’ma will soon be announced, and JFL Media is in conversations with the Avi Chai and other parties about BabagaNewz, he said. Two Jewish organizations have expressed an interested in publishing JVibe, but couldn’t guarantee funding for two or three years.
Since its founding 1996, JFL Media has nurtured new Jewish media, such as Interfaithfamily.com and MyJewishLearning.com.
Posted By yosef abramowitz (9/9/2009 4:25 PM EDT): Edit Post Report Post
Kol Hakavod to the JFL Media Board, leadership and Staff on doing a great job in a rough philanthropic environment and ensuring that the best properties continue to impact Jewish life in new organizational homes. Yossi Abramowitz, Jerusalem