Jewish press meets under Arizona heat

Larry Levin

Larry Levin, Publisher/CEO

Well, the American Jewish Press Association (AJPA) conference has come and gone. It was my second to attend, and while the economy has presented some challenges in the way of attendance, the content and interaction with those from other Jewish publications was invaluable. The heat in Scottsdale, Arizona was slightly less valuable.

I’ll get to more on the conference’s details in a moment. But I think it’s safe to say that in print, online, in networks and social media, Jewish journalism is very much alive, creating not only news, feature and arts content, but a tremendous amount of perceptive analysis about social and world issues affecting Jewish communities. These are smart, sophisticated folks, and as with us, they take their craft very seriously. The number of years of Jewish and journalistic experience at the conference is well into the triple, if not quadruple, digits. I am truly impressed by what AJPA and its constituent organizations bring to the table. (For more on the organization, see

Advertisement for the J

Ok, now on to the conference details.

It is always very useful to share ideas with your peers. It’s folly to suppose that one has a monopoly on good ideas, or even on good execution of ideas. So to have everyone in one place presents an excellent opportunity to cultivate best practices.

We had a number of outstanding sessions for the gathered journalists, who included publishers and editors of very large circulation papers (LA’s Jewish Journal, for instance) to representatives of the wire service JTA, to smaller publications from communities with Jewish populations smaller than ours (Milwaukee, Providence, etc) to freelance writers.

Among the most interesting and useful sessions I attended were those on:

*Revenue ideas for print publications, led by the publisher of the Phoenix Business Journal.

*Multiple sessions on better utilizing web and social media outlets.

*An analysis of legal and ethical issues facing the media industry, with emphasis on how electronic publishing has changed the landscape.

*A great panel on the immigration controversy in Arizona on the heels of passage of SB 1070, which gave those of us not from the state great perspective on how residents have been grappling with the issue for a long time.

*An excellent session on the so-called BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanction) movement regarding Israel, which formed the basis for our June 23 editorial on the subject.

We also were thrilled to win two first-place Rockower awards at the conference for our 2009 Earth Day section (see the news elsewhere on this website). We were pleased that our focus on environmental issues was taken seriously and seen as an integral part of Jewish news coverage. Sure, the COEJL website ( and locally, the Jewish Environmental Initiative ( provide substantial information and efforts regarding Jewish environmentalism, but it’s our job to treat this sector of news with the same level of focus and seriousness as we do any other aspect of Judaism. So the validation we received from the awards was very much appreciated.

That’s about it for now. If you have questions about the AJPA, please don’t hesitate to contact either them or me. Thanks for your time!